JoCo expanding mental health training beyond Blue Valley

Frontier Trails Middle

The Johnson County Mental Health Center will train Olathe school personnel, first responders and youth on how to spot on how to spot and address teenagers struggling with mental illness. Above, an empty hallway at Frontier Trails Middle in Olathe. Photo credit Wirestock Creators via Shutterstock. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Johnson County will use federal funding to address a growing local concern around mental health challenges in teenagers. At this week’s meeting, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted

Johnson County will use federal funding to address a growing local concern around mental health challenges in teenagers.

At this week’s meeting, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted to accept a roughly $496,000 federal adolescent mental health grant. Spearheaded by the Johnson County Mental Health Center, the grant will fund a mental health training program called Mental Health First Aid for Olathe school employees and first responders.

Administrators from the Blue Valley School District received this course in spring 2022.

The county’s vote to start the program in Olathe follows weeks after the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Olathe resident Brandon Lynch, who had a known mental illness history with local police, according to his family.

Staff at Olathe Public Schools and Kansas School for the Deaf will get training

  • The Mental Health First Aid program is the mental health center’s educational program that identifies signs and responses to mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • The program will educate faculty on what signs of mental health issues to look for and how to connect students to resources when they show signs of mental health challenges.
  • First responders from the Olathe police and fire departments will also get the training.

The county wants to train more than 4,000 people

  • By the end of this year, roughly 370 school employees and 110 first responders will have finished the training.
  • The program runs through 2027.

Olathe teenagers will also receive the training

  • County mental health officials said this program will also debut a version of Mental Health First Aid training for Olathe teens.
  • The mental health center will choose one Olathe high school to implement the program with its students.
  • Local organizations like Zero Reasons Why and the Olathe Teen Council will also lead peer outreach efforts to educate teens and families on identifying signs of mental health issues and how to de-stigmatize the topic.

Go deeper: Blue Valley school leaders get ‘mental health first aid’ training as concerns over students’ wellness increase


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