State Opens Free Online Training for Teachers, Parents – The 74

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The Oregon Department of Education this week launched self-directed online courses for adults to help them address mental health issues among students.

The program called WISE, or wellness information and strategies for educators, includes sessions for specific groups: teachers, other school staff, and parents and guardians. The program is free, and each group receives six modules with various video lessons and accompanying texts.

Lessons for parents and guardians include identifying distress among the youth, teaching responsible decision-making, demystifying the mind, and de-escalation strategies.

The courses are part of a nationwide WISE program developed in 2018 by the National Center for Mental Health School and various partners. The purpose of state and national programs is to help adults better support students dealing with mental health issues. The sessions also help supplement thin mental health resources in schools and the community by training adults who are not mental health workers.

According to the Oregon Health Authority and specialists in the field, Oregon has faced a shortage of behavioral health care workers for years. The state has consistently ranked in nationwide surveys at the bottom or near the bottom in access to mental health care.

A 2020 audit of the Oregon Secretary’s office found that systemic issues in the state’s mental health treatment system created a crisis among children and their families. Oregon’s behavioral health system for children only got worse during the pandemic. The Capital Chronicle outlined some of the problems late last year.

The state legislature allocated millions of dollars to strengthen the system for adults and children, but the money was slow to get to the door.

Oregon is not the only state with a poor mental health support system for children. In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Oregon’s WISE program is funded as part of a $ 5.5 million state initiative to strengthen mental health literacy and support in schools, according to the Department of Education’s website. Up to 70% of students nationwide receive mental health care at school, according to the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

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