Safe in Class Series: Identifying Signs

Mental Health
Posted at 8:43 PM, Feb 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-22 04:47:56-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--Mental illness specialists are advising teachers and parents to get educated on identifying signs.

Don't ignore the signs.

That's the advice of Judi Evans, the executive director for national alliance on mental illnesses in Tallahassee. She's encouraging families and teachers to be more aware of this common medical condition.

"Alot of people see it, they recognize it but they don't know what to do about it"

Evans is talking about knowing where and when your child could be planning an attack.

"If its a teenager or child in their rooms alone and parents need to go in there and see what's going on, a lot of these tragedies have happened begin in a child's bedroom or a student's bedroom," said Evans.

But she cautions, isolation isn't the only warning sign, change in sleep patterns, a decrease in interaction with friends and family, and threatening to hurt themselves are also on the list….

"Usually they tell someone that they're planning to do something and its not taken serious," said Evans.

That reason is why Evans says teachers and parents have to get educated.

"there's got to be some way that the education gets into the school and that teachers are allowed to talk about it, take the stigma away from mental health and work with the parents on the issues"

But psychologist, like Dr. Jermaine Robertson says it starts with detecting the signs early.

"If you go back and look at years and years of behavioral symptoms problems in the classroom, we may find that there was evidence of potential propensity to violence or aggression that hadn't been dealt with," said Robertson

Robertson says more than ten percent of children are diagnosed with mental illnesses across the country.

"If a parent suspect that there is an issue, emotionally behaviorally psychologically with their child then that information should be shared with the school," said Robertson.

"There's really not a lot of teachers that are trained to recognize the signs so education is needed within in the classroom," said Evans.

They both offer a possible solution to the problem.

"If we combine these efforts that we can go a long way in trying to ensure that our schools and our children in various environments in which they're in are safe," said Roberston

"The earlier the treatment, the better the chance for recovery and for the child to succeed in school," said Evans.