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Curtailing School Violence: National Mental Health Experts Outline What Teachers Need to Know

MILWAUKEE, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A fourteen year-old walks into a public school with two guns, kills two teens and injuries a pair of teachers before killing himself. How many times will we hear this story before we focus our nation's resources on improving our public schools? What do our teachers need to know and be able to do when challenged by student mental health? A recent summit of mental health and education experts at the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC) in Milwaukee revealed some answers.

"Today's classrooms are very different from even 10 year ago," said Nanci Schiman, Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, a summit participant. "Teachers need the tools to understand and support a diverse range of student needs and challenges. As a mental health professional, I have seen the tremendous successes that come in academic settings where staff recognize and support students with mental illnesses."

The summit attendees identified many critical competencies for teachers, including:

-- Awareness of the continuum of mental health - mental illness and early

warning signs of mental health concerns

-- Communication skills that work for connecting with all students -

especially troubled students

-- As a member of a multidisciplinary team, who they can count on from the

team to support/guide their work with students and to offer needed

services to the students

-- Personal and professional limits - when to ask for help with a troubled


-- The language and skills to communicate mental health concerns about a

child to parents and colleagues in a context of trust and empathy, to

improve academic performance, classroom behavior and their sense of


-- Appreciation and awareness of diverse populations within the school and

to embrace the importance of cultural competence

A number of key

SOURCE National Association of Health Education Centers
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