AUSTIN (KXAN) — While students are out for the summer, Austin Independent School District Police officers are working on how they respond to mental crisis situations.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1 in 8 Texas students think about committing suicide. This comes after several high profile school shootings and the fact that one in five Americans live with a mental health issue.
“Obviously, the optimal situation is to gather as much information as you can before you get there so you know what you’re dealing with,” said AISD crisis intervention coordinator Wayne Sneed.
The first few days this week are presentations. Later in the week, they’ll practice hands-on de-escalation techniques.
“Every day. That’s primarily my job, strictly crisis intervention,” said Sneed.
Just like teachers, school officers have access to the kids and the goal here is to spot the small problems before they become big problems.
Officials are convinced school shootings are symptoms of a larger mental health crisis. Lawmakers in D.C. and Austin right now talk about diverting more money to the issue.
The state requires 16 hours of mental health training but encourages more. Government grant money pays for this 40-hour course.
“We strongly believe that as a result to this we can prevent further tragedies or situations from escalating out of control,” said AISD Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez.
According to the district, 55 officers are taking the training from several school districts. This mental health officer certification training received $49,000 as part of a grant from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.