ACPS provides training to support mental health

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Albemarle County, Va. (WVIR) – Albemarle County Public Schools says it’s putting an emphasis on the mental health of its students.

ACPS is training school and social and emotional learning counselors, school social workers and administrators in ASIST (Applied Suicidality Intervention Skills Training).

The purpose of this training is to give staff the tools to get students the help they need.

“I would say that coming out of Covid, the need for ASIST training or any kind of suicide prevention has really increased,” said Rebecca Kars, a mental health specialist at Walton Middle School. “This is not just for Albemarle County. I would say there is a national crisis.

The two-day training teaches skills like active listening: “Being an active listener and letting them tell their story and trying to avoid as much judgment as possible,” Cars said.

Also ease mental health.

“We sat around and talked about what each individual was going through, and I thought that was really important to help alleviate suicide,” Kars said.

“When we talk about individuals who have died from cancer, we don’t say that people have committed cancer, and the same thing with suicide, it brings awareness to mental health in general,” said Miles Nelson, mental health and wellness coordinator.

Staff participating in the training can connect students to the new national 988 hotline or resources from Region Ten.

“Suicide is much more common in America than we are as a society as a whole, and it’s something we need to face in order to help those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” said WMS Principal Josh Walton.

ASIST occurs annually to ensure staff are up-to-date on the best ways to assist students.

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