Branson High School hosted its first Tri-Lakes Educational Summit.

They welcomed between 900 and 1,000 certified staff and paras from Blue Eye, Branson, Forsyth, Hollister, Kirbyville, Reeds Spring and Taneyville school districts for a day of educational learning and eye-opening topics.

Topics such as positive coaching, mental health & suicide, preparing students for life after high school, supporting struggling readers, trauma awareness and boosting ACT scores were just a handful of the topics discussed.

Mental Health & Suicide - Youth Mental Health First Aid was presented by speaker Chris Davis, with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, which reviewed the basics of Mental Health First Aid as well as an overview of youth mental health and suicide prevalence and barriers.

Mental Health First Aid for Youth (YMHFA) is a public education program which introduces participants to unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention and teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenges.

According to studies for ages 12 and up presented by Davis, one in five have a mental health disorder, half by the age of 14 and three-fourths by the age of 24. Suicide in Missouri is the 10th leading cause of death, the second leading cause of death in individuals age 18 to 34 and the first leading cause of death in individuals age 10 to 17.

“If you’re alive, there’s hope,” said Davis. ‘If you are alive, it can get better. If you’re dead, it can’t get better. No matter how bad it is, how deep in the hole you are, if you’re alive, there’s a chance, and that’s what our kids need to hear.”

Local educators who participated in the presentation got a rundown of the five-step action plan (ALGEE) so they can support an adolescent developing signs and symptoms of mental illness and/or in an emotional crisis.

–Assess for risk of suicide or harm

–Listen non judgmentally

–Give reassurance and information

–Encourage appropriate professional help

–Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The goals of Mental Health First Aid is to increase the number of youth accessing professional help, self-help and/or other support strategies. To decrease time from symptom onset to intervention and decrease prevalence of severe mental health disorders/suicide, etc.

To learn more visit cpozarks.org/mentalhealth.

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