A new bill in the Michigan House of Representatives would offer mental health first aid training for teachers as part of professional development.
In Michigan, teachers are required to have 150 hours of professional development over a three- to five-year period to renew their teaching certificates. School districts are required to provide five days or 30 hours of that development time.
Professional development can include curriculum development meetings, a college class, instructional technology, conferences, workshops and online learning experiences.
Under House Bill 5524, introduced by State Rep. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit, one of those options would be mental health first aid training. The course would help school professionals identify potential risk factors and warnings signs of illnesses including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders and self-injury.
The course would teach strategies for helping these individuals including assessing risk, listening respectfully, supporting the individual and identifying professional help and other resources for the individual.
The bill has received almost 30 co-sponsors from both Republicans and Democrats.
The bill comes at a time when Michigan’s student safety tip line continues to receive thousands of reports from students concerning the safety of other students. In 2017 alone, 1,205 tips were received on suicide threats, 476 tips for “other” (anxiety, stress, depression or harassment), 311 tips on drug use and 390 tips on self-harm.
The bill has been referred to the committee on health policy.
— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelErin.