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Mental Health Training Available To Arizona Teachers

By Mariana Dale
Published: Friday, December 28, 2018 - 8:34am

Arizona’s Medicaid program is teaming up with the state’s Department of Education to offer mental health training to educators.

“Part of the goal that we’re trying to accomplish here is reducing the stigma around mental health issues,” said Tracey Sridharan, director of professional learning and sustainability at the Arizona Department of Education.

Teachers will be trained to recognize the biological effects of trauma and how it can impact a student’s mental health.

“It is really easy for folks in the community to see disabilities that are on the surface,” said Alissa Trollinger, the deputy associate superintendent of Exceptional Student Services. “But what we’re really talking about is making illnesses or disabilities that are under the surface visible and aware to people that may not have that awareness — and if we don’t do that, we are doing a disservice to the children in our schools.”

AHCCS received $1 million from the Governor’s Office to implement the program by June 2019.

RELATED: Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis?

Educators can fill out an application to participate.

The Department of Education is also offering a program called Mental Health First Aid which focuses on identifying mental health problems and connecting with existing resources.

“I think one of the big paradigm shifts we’re seeing is teachers who are dealing with students with mental health, and ACE scores are moving away from ‘What’s wrong with this student?’ to ‘What happened to this student?” Said Anya Rispoli, a professional learning specialist.

ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. An ACE score helps educators determine what types of hardship a student has endured.

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