The old adage is that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But when it comes to applying that lesson in the classroom, teachers and school staff might be hesitant to implement preventative measures, or might even ask themselves: “Why worry about discussing behavioral health issues that students may not be concerned about or aware of for years to come?” At the 50th annual meeting of the Association of Middle Level Education (AMLE50), an important session spotlighted a free training for school staff to bring home the message that, in mental health, prevention is essential.
The American Psychiatric Association Foundation, an AMLE50 sponsor, hosted a lunch session at the conference to share the Notice. Talk. Act.® at School framework with teachers and school administrators. Notice. Talk. Act.® at School has been improving students’ mental health outcomes for over 10 years, has been implemented at over 220 schools across the U.S., and is available in schools at no cost thanks to funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The framework is presented as a hybrid module (a short e-learning session and a 1-2 hour in-person training) that demonstrates how to notice the difference between a student having one bad day and a student who may be suffering from pervasive mental health issues, and how to then initiate a conversation with that student (talk) and connect them to the appropriate mental health care resources if needed (act). The Notice. Talk. Act. ® at School program has been proven to reduce major mental health events in schools by 99% and also includes free resources for parental involvement.
“Reaching out to a struggling student isn’t always easy,” said Jeri Thuku, M.P.H., Program Manager for Schools and Justice Initiatives at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. “That’s why the Notice. Talk. Act.® at School curriculum walks you step by step through the process of showing up for a student who may need mental health support, or even just a caring adult presence.”
Notice. Talk. Act. ® at School demonstrates that it is in the best interest of school staff not to wait until a behavioral health problem presents itself to address it. Instead, it’s important to get in front of the potential concern, either by educating students early on the dangers of substance use or by intervening when signs of a potential mental health condition surface. Teachers and school staff can guide kids in the right direction when support reaches them before it’s too late.
To learn more about Notice. Talk. Act. At School, visit www.apafdn.org/impact/schools/notice-talk-act-at-school.