(Springfield, Mo.) Educators in Ozark Public Schools are being armed with extra tools to accomplish the mental health obstacles children face in today's society.
As kids get ready to head back to school, teachers aren't just focused on traditional curriculum, this year they're focused on mental health too.
"It’s harder to be a kid now than it used to be. They have a lot more in life that they have to navigate then we had to navigate when we were kids, it’s a different life," explains Allicia Baum, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Ozark Public Schools.
Baum says mental health issues are showing up in schools across America every day. But is your child's teacher equipped to spot it?
"It isn’t really about fixing it. It’s about able to understand what could be there so you know the questions to ask."
Under Senate Bill 638, school districts state wide will be required to provide teachers and staff with training on mental health intervention and suicide prevention to help them identify red flags in a child's behavior and respond effectively.
"The awareness of the need has been there. I think each year its grown more and more and so actually now that there are initiatives saying each district need to have some sort of plan in place. We can now just go in and say what is our plan?"
That's why teachers like Chelsea Brown, 7th Grade English Teacher, Ozark Middle School had the opportunity to learn about trauma informed practices among children.
"I just think education isn’t teaching the core subjects anymore. You have to teach the whole child and that’s kind of my passion is helping them become great human beings," adds Brown.
Brown says she'll take what she learned back with her into the classroom.
"I want to help level the playing field as much as possible for my students to go out and see success in every area not just academically, but emotionally, socially. I want them to find that success in their whole life."
Experts says teachers are in a unique position to notice mood and behavioral changes in students, and kids may reach out to them for help.
"This is all about relationships and all about relating to the students and so if you can understand another way that helps to relate and another way to help you consider that then you’re going to be a more effective teacher in the long run," explains Baum.
Ozark Public Schools will continue to offer trauma training to educators on a monthly basis.