GOAL Digital Academy staff trains in Mental Health First Aid


CARDINGTON –In February, GOAL Digital Academy educational advocates, school counselors,behavioral therapists, and the Cardington Lab staff participated in a Mental Health First Aid training by the National Council for Mental Well-being.

The training was initiated by Susie Sexton, Family & Civic Engagement Coordinator for The Tomorrow Center, a trauma-sensitive community school in Morrow County which opened the training toGOAL Digital Academy staff. With the prevalence of mental health and substance use challenges in youth today, GOAL wants to put an emphasis on being a line of support, monitoring students carefully, and empowering the GOAL community to break the barriers of treatment for our students, and their families.

This Mental Health First Aid training provided the educational staff with the knowledge they need to intervene in amental health crisis. The training draws parallels with response to a physical health crisis: recognizing the warningsigns and giving support until the affected person can be connected to the correct level of care. A key point in the training is increasing staff comfort level in talking directly with students about suicide.

Staff learned the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders that are common and how to differentiate between typical behaviors and potential warning signs among youth, allowing them to become advocates for youth-in-need. In this training, Mental Health First Aid USA used written scenarios and videos to elevate the visibility of varying identities, perspectives, challenges, and stories of participants and instructors in different communities across the country.

This research helps to bridge the gap for all genders, ethnicities, races, and experiences of youth today by connecting how health is related to, and affected by, identity. Staff can now act as advocates of self-care for the whole GOAL network, establishing a plan to help students withpositive and healthy developmental strategies.Behavioral Therapist Amy Bings said, “The trainers were extremely engaging and knowledgeable. They created an environment conducive to lively and meaningful discussion, and the other participants and I felt we had a positive learning experience.”GOAL Digital Academy serves 12 counties in Central Ohio with its 7 Learning Labs, and celebrates students’ diverselearning styles, interests and talents by going beyond academics and providing students with well-rounded opportunities to meet new people and engage in their passions.

GOAL offers regular family education and networkingopportunities and continually works to remove family or community barriers that impact student success.

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