Mental Health First Aid: A necessary training for future teachers in virtual and real worlds.
Abstract: Kessler et al., (2005) found that up to 50% of adult mental health problems began before the age of 14 years old. This means that many teachers are on the front line of recognizing the beginning signs and symptoms of mental health problems in their students. Therefore, it is essential that teachers are aware of mental health problems and ways to support students. Teacher Candidates at the Faculty of Education UOIT receive Mental Health First Aid training as part of their mental health course. Mental Health First Aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved (MHFA Canada, 2018). A key focus of the training for the teacher candidates is recognizing mental health distress in students in both virtual and real worlds since many will teach in various settings. This presentation will review mental health issues amongst children, youth and teachers, MHFA, and the need for interventions in both online classrooms and face to face classrooms. The experiences of 130+ teacher candidates with MHFA training will be shared to explore future recommendations for teacher education and school supports.