Robbinsdale District Schools Open Conversation on Suicide Awareness
The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education are shedding light on the growing mental health crisis for Suicide Awareness Month. The Robbinsdale Area School District is taking part in the initiative.
More than two thirds of kids have experienced a traumatic event by age 16, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Traumas can require children to need mental health services even more. It can even lead to physical health complications down the road.
In schools, educators are seeing youth in crisis firsthand.
“Concerns can exhibit themselves in behavior, in lack of attendance in school, to withdrawal, to at-risk behaviors,” said Melodie Hanson, director for the Robbinsdale Area School’s Redesign program.
Stephanie Downey, suicide prevention coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health, says her department is partnering with the state Department of Education to offer resources in schools for free.
“We want to be able to build a community of adult champions that are equipped with skills and confidence to be able to reach students,” Downey said.
Kognito Program Provides Training Resource
A program called Kognito is being used to help teachers, staff and even students train on mental health topics.
Kognito provides tools to build conversation skills at any age level. There are resources for each stage, beginning at the elementary level.
“Tools to feel comfortable with the discussions and open that dialogue,” Hanson said.
Hanson walked CCX News through the middle school module, which involved a teacher having a conversation with her fifth-grade student. She was able to select different responses to see how the student reacted and learn options for more productive problem-solving.
At Robbinsdale, Hanson is encouraging staff to take part. It is not a required course, but staff and educators are able to do it as a professional development exercise.
Hanson said 320 staff members have already gone through the training.
Downey said a big step to taking care of mental health is talking about it.
“You can slow, or stop, or eliminate. And hopefully, create an environment where suicide is not the end result,” Hanson said.
Downey said half of Minnesota schools are represented in the system. She said she hopes this is a stepping stone to greater conversations.
“People feel less alone. People feel more connected when we can have conversations and engage with each other,” Downey said.
Any Minnesota teacher, staff member or student can take part in the training by logging in with their school email on Kognito’s Minnesota website.
It is free to access.