La Crosse Aquinas schools to train all staff members in mental health first aid

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse Police Department is partnering with Aquinas Catholic Schools to make sure every school staff member can provide students with the resources they may need to cope with mental health problems.

The schools will be the first the area to have every staff member trained. Aquinas staffers say more students are reporting mental health issues.

“It’s real, it’s what we’re dealing with and what students are dealing today,” physical education teacher Kevin Schreiner said.

Police officers will train school staffers in mental health first aid.

“We wanted to partner with our community. We wanted to take this education and be able to provide it to our community,” said Police Chief Shawn Kudron.

Staff members will be trained in how to identify behaviors, listen and provide resources about mental health and substance abuse.

“We want is make sure the problems don’t grow and don’t foster, and don’t fester and get bigger,” Aquinas President Ted Knutson said.

It is important for school staff to be trained because they are with students almost every day, he said.

“To be able to stop and talk with direct them to real professional help,” Knutson said.

The program is an example of decreasing stigma surrounding mental health, he said.

“The old culture was to kind of conceal it, kind of just deal with it. And it wasn’t healthy,” Knutson said.

La Crosse police hope this program will make it easier for students to reach out when they need help.

“You know mental health and needing some help once in a while is okay,” Kudron said.

And remind them  that “we’re stronger together.”

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