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Academy D20 hosts "Parent Academy" with mental health emphasis

Posted at 12:37 PM, Nov 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-16 18:40:46-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — A study released earlier this year shows teen suicide is down in El Paso County, however it doesn't mean teens aren't still facing mental health challenges.

In Academy District 20, there's a goal to make sure ever staff and parent has the tools to address these challenges with students.

One of the ways the district is trying to accomplish this is by offering "Parent Academies" on weekends, where parents, grandparents or guardians can spend a day learning about various programs and topics impacting kids.

On Saturday, the Parent Academy brought in nearly 100 parents and grandparents for a Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

The district says grant money from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation has given them the ability to offer training for families.

The training explains the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and the best ways for parents to help their kids recover and be resilient.

"It really teaches them how to recognize mental health challenges and how to deal with them," said Martha Hinson, Health and Wellness Specialist for Academy District 20, "relationships, drama on social media, those kind of things," said Hinson.

For grandparents like Bob Koenig, it's a useful program as he has a grandchildren in both elementary and high school.

"I think just in growing up there's challenges, there's challenges today different from challenges I had 50 years ago," said Koenig, who added that with a lot of information out there for teens- it's a saturation for them that causes more challenges.

Koenig says with all of the technology it adds to the pressures for kids and teens.

"High school is a difficult time because you're going through adolescence, you're going from a kid to a young adult," said Koenig.

Academy District 20 has seen its fair share of challenges for teenagers, and it's a growing concern throughout the nation.

"If we're equipped to know how to deal with it, it helps us recognize things in our own lives," said Hinson, "life is hard and we have so many things that it's like a perfect storm right now with social media, and just the normal pressures of being a teenager with grades and parent expectations and all of their extracurriculars."