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NHS teachers to receive training on mental health issues

Newton Daily News - 10/26/2018

Oct. 26--Teachers at Newton School District will begin training Monday to handle students with mental health scenarios.

According to administrators and staff at Skiff Medical Center, Newton High School instructors will take a series of mental health classes exclusive to and tailored toward teachers, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Elementary.

"What we're trying to do is get word out to other school districts by saying, 'Hey, you could do something similar,'" said Julie Bishop-Gibson, CHI Grant Coordinator at Skiff and mental health advocate.

One of the main things Bishop-Gibson learned through her studies of mental health is schools need more support, and teachers need more opportunities for training in order for them to meet their ADA credit requirements.

Three classes were bundled together to meet the opportunity requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals. The classes were scheduled to be taught during two teacher in-service days, one of which will be Monday, and the other is on Nov. 26.

"Nobody has ever done it this way, to get approved for ADA credits before," Bishop-Gibson said.

The class categories include identifying mental health concerns within the youth, what type of mental illnesses exist, understanding a student's trauma and the best approaches to dealing with those students and how to de-escalate students whose mental illness is causing stress, anxiety and to act out.

One of the most important things Bishop-Gibson said to emphasize is to treat the situation in terms of the life circumstance that might have caused or contributed to the student's mental illness.

"We try to stop asking, 'What's wrong with you?' and start asking, 'What happened to you,'" Bishop-Gibson said.

These classes are not open to the general public. Similar classes, however, are offered for free on Nov. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Iowa State University Extension Office in Newton. Interested participants can contact Stacy Haas at

Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or


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