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Mental Health Training at MOCH Wellness Center October 19

Ava R-I School is also doing their part to reach out and educate. 

Missouri Ozarks Community Health is hosting a mental health training day on Friday, Oct. 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   The seminar is being held at the MOCH Wellness Center, in Ava, Mo., and the learning session is free and open to the public.  

The initiative, Mental Health First Aid USA, is an eight-hour course that teaches individuals how to help someone developing a mental health issue, or to assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis.  The training provides instruction and insight on how to identify, understand and respond to someone in need. 

The meeting will be facilitated by Lindsay Hammon, with Optum Behavorial Health Recovery, where she serves as manager.   

The work day session also fulfills five-hours of continuing education units (CEUs). 

This opportunity is being offered free through a United Healthcare grant, and the initiative is being provided to cities and communities throughout Missouri.  

Friday’s program will focus on school age children and the younger generation.  Lunch will be provided.  

According to organizers, future programs are currently being planned to address additional topics associated with mental health issues. 

The Mental Health First Aid USA is a movement to help the public learn how to help a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor in need.  They recommend:  Take a course. Save a life. Strengthen your community.  

Anyone interested in attending Friday’s seminar is asked to please Rsvp by contacting Rebecca Gann, 683-5739, ext. 410, or email, 

In addition to MOCH’s efforts to educate community members about mental health issues, the Ava R-I School District is also hosting several meetings today (Thursday) during the parent-teacher conference sessions on campus.  Upon visiting the school, parents will have the opportunity to visit with building counselors as well as attend a Signs of Suicide informational meeting.  

On Thursday, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the APAC building, counselors and administrators will be on hand to explain the Signs of Suicide Prevention program the school district is putting into place this year.  According to school officials, the program teaches how to identify signs and symptoms of depression, as well as teaches staff and individuals how to respond effectively.  

Following the Suicide Prevention program, School Resource Officer Brandon Reed, along with Marcella Swatosh, middle school principal, will share information and provide helpful hints about social media, Internet safety, and digital responsibility.  This informational session is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., also in the APAC building.

In previous months, the school has hosted several training sessions for teachers and staff members, including a session with Lora Hand, a crisis therapist from Ozark Medical Center, and on October 1, the school hosted Mental Health First Aid Training for the staff.  

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton advises the school will also be offering additional training for staff in November.  These sessions are facilitated through the Signs of Suicide program, which provides tools to help staff identify those in turmoil due to symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts, or youths who may pose the threat of self-injury to themselves or peers.   

According to MOCH and Ava R-I, the goal is to create a safety net, as well as an outreach to those in need.  Educating the staff, parents and the community about symptoms and signs associated with mental health problems is the first step in providing the support and long term well being to those struggling in our county and school community.