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Teachers learn skills to help students suffering with mental health issues

Peter and Richard Bennett are shown with teachers who took part in mental health training on Friday at New Glasgow Academy. The Bennett family provided a donation, which created the Sandbar Mental Health Endowment. Funds from the endowment helped pay for Friday’s training.
Peter and Richard Bennett are shown with teachers who took part in mental health training on Friday at New Glasgow Academy. The Bennett family provided a donation, which created the Sandbar Mental Health Endowment. Funds from the endowment helped pay for Friday’s training.

NEW GLASGOW – While students were enjoying a day off school Friday, teachers at New Glasgow Academy were doing a bit of learning of their own.

A group of 16 teachers at New Glasgow Academy were receiving training in mental health first aid training.

The Mental Health First Aid Basic Training Program was developed to help people provide initial support to someone who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. The course does not train participants to be therapists, counsellors or mental health professionals. The purpose is to help people such as teachers intervene and take action that could reduce harm resulting from a crisis.

Funding for the initiative was provided in part by the Aberdeen Health Foundation Sandbar Mental Health Endowment, which provides support for mental health programs in Pictou County.

Additional funding was provided by the New Glasgow Academy Home and School Committee, which has actively fundraised through events such as the East Coast Kitchen Party to make the training possible.

“The Aberdeen Health Foundation is pleased to see Sandbar funding directed to a frontline initiative in our community,” executive director Susan Malcolm said. “Mental Health First Aid is a terrific program that helps people help others, just like any first aid training.”

New Glasgow Academy principal Allison Wilson said their goal is to have all staff including teachers, EAs, and even cafeteria staff go through the training.

“We’re seeing students communing in young and younger with anxiety and needing some support in mental health,” Wilson said.

She believes the earlier students can receive help the better. For example if a student is having anxiety about coming to school in elementary and it’s not addressed, by the time they reach middle school they may not want to come at all.

She said she is thankful for the support of the Aberdeen Foundation as well as the Home and School committee members who have worked hard to raise the money to make this training possible.

“We’re very excited about this initiative and the opportunity for staff to receive this training,” she said. “Hopefully it will grow.”

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