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Online training aims to help educators support students' mental health

A teacher in the Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts leads a class on test anxiety.

A new online training program in the state is now available to help educators better prepare in supporting student mental health.

The Mental Health Association in New York State provides the service for educators.

"This particular one is really geared to teachers and really provides just a basic understanding about mental health,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of the association.

This new online training program is called Supporting the Mental Health and Wellness of Students. It's designed to deepen the understanding of this critical topic.  It includes learning how mental health troubles affect youth development and learning which signs, symptoms and risk factors that educators should look for.

"The percentage of students who have an increased level of anxiety and depression, it's just skyrocketing,” Liebman said. “I can't say that a day goes by where we are not hearing some stories about some school where something is happening along those lines. I'm sure it happens all the time, all too frequently.”

The online training works to enhance the state's recent law that now requires all schools to teach some form of mental health to students. Since implemented last fall, Lieberman said, more than 50 percent of the state's public schools have accessed its resource center. 

“People have been really incredibly positive about this. They recognize the need,” Liebman said.

He said there has been no pushback in enforcing a curriculum. Liebman said schools have been working hard to embrace the new teachings -- and he even offers a letter grade.  

“If it were pass/fail – it would definitely be a pass, but I would say it would be in the ‘A’s’ at this point because they’re really embracing this,” Liebman said. 

The Mental Health Association is pushing to securing $1 million in funding for the School Mental Health Center in the upcoming state budget.

Eileen Buckley is an award-winning radio news reporter who actually began her radio career as an intern at WBFO in 1984. In 2018, Eileen celebrates her 33rd year in broadcasting & media communications. She has worked at 10 radio stations in Buffalo and Albany, NY. Eileen has served as a former news director and assistant news director, managing the day-to-day news operations and assignment of news team. Now as senior reporter, she produces and reports in-depth features and spot news stories for broadcast during local segments of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She has also provided National Public Radio with reports of stories of interest from the Buffalo Niagara region.