Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Trillium Provides Mental Health Training for Secondary Interns

Sunday, January 01, 2017

In a September 2016 story titled “Increase in Youth Suicide Rates Prompts States to Act,” The Huffington Post reported that the suicide rate among people age 19 and younger increased in at least 36 states between 2006 and 2014.

Approximately one in five adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder such as depression and/or anxiety disorders, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Adolescent Health. Effective treatments exist, but symptoms often go unrecognized and it’s estimated that less than half of adolescents receive necessary treatment.

On Jan. 18, the Watson College offered a full-day Mental Health First Aid Training Seminar to raise pre-service teachers’ awareness of mental health issues and the resources that are available to assist students who suffer from them.

Twenty-five students enrolled in undergraduate- and master’s-level Secondary Education programs at the Watson College participated in the program.

Lyn Keating, training coordinator at Trillium Health Resources, led the training. Robert Smith, professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education, coordinated the seminar.

“The high school years can be difficult for students as they face pressure from peers, family, school and society,” Smith said. “Young people are trying to figure out who they are and what’s important to them, and unfortunately, it’s easy for individual students to fall through the cracks. We want teachers who are knowledgeable about their content, but we also want teachers who are aware of the problems high school students are facing.”

Smith said teachers aren’t expected to become experts in diagnosing mental health. “However, by providing future teachers with some understanding of mental health, we hope that they will feel prepared to reach out to students and, where appropriate, ensure students get the professional help they need,” he said. “Having teachers who can be supportive of their students is also important in helping remove the stigma associated with mental health issues.”

The Watson College is one of only a few teacher education programs that have a mental health awareness program as part of their preparation, Smith said. This is the second year the college has partnered with Trillium to offer mental health first aid training to secondary pre-service teachers in the internship semester.