Kent State University's College of Public Health Partners with Medina County Public Schools to Support Student Mental Health

Kent State University's College of Public Health Partners with Medina County Public Schools to Support Student Mental Health

KENT, OH - Medina County Aware, a project providing Medina County school personnel with mental health awareness training, is in action and helping students across multiple schools.

This project, funded by a three-year grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, is led by Dr. Deric Kenne, Associate Professor, and Dr. Kim Laurene, Assistant Professor, from KSU’s College of Public Health. The Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board is assisting in the project, as well.

By the end of this year, MCA will provide approximately 1,440 teachers, admin and staff, at seven Medina County Schools, with either the Youth Mental Health First Aid or A.I.D. Mental Health training.

The A.I.D. Mental Health training teaches three main steps: awareness, interaction and direction. Through the training, individuals learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of
students in distress and how to interact with them, along with learning how to locate and provide resources to those students in need.

YMHFA is a nationally recognized, evidence-based program for individuals who work with youth 12-18 years of age. Through this training, school personnel learn risk factors and warning signs of common mental illnesses, along with a five-step action plan to engage with and help students. This plan also teaches a safe, effective way to de-escalate crisis situations. Beth Beal from Wadsworth City Schools said, “Youth Mental Health First Aid has been very beneficial to the Wadsworth community. Our staff have been intervening with confidence in situations where they recognize risk factors and warning signs in their students.”

Through MCA, Kenne and Laurene have trained nearly 1,000 school personnel and community members in Medina County so far. The positive impact from these trainings are evident.

Beal stated, “In the past two years, our staff has saved lives and secured help for students - long before they would have been able to before they were trained. Our students and community have benefited from a staff that has committed themselves to being educated, listening with purpose and encouraging self care.” Another positive impact from the project was the reduction of mental health ‘stigma’ inthe schools.

Brandy Miracle from Cloverleaf Local Schools stated, “The ‘stigma’ of mental health was reduced for not only students that these staff members work with but also for the staff themselves.”

Miracle also has many goals for the promotion of mental health at Cloverleaf Local Schools during the remainder of MCA and long after the project ends. Miracle stated, “My hope is that we can continue to train new staff, provide refresher
courses for already trained staff and promote empowerment for the students that need the support. Finding new ways to continue to support youth struggling with mental health disorders and being creative in the classroom would be another long-term goal for our district. I hope that as teachers feel more comfortable reaching out that youth will feel like they have more opportunities for growth and to open up without feeling judged or discouraged.”

Kenne and Laurene are excited about how much MCA has benefited the Medina community in the past couple years.

“It has been an absolutely incredible experience to be part of MCA,” Laurene said. “What started out as a question of whether there would be an interest in mental health training has been answered with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Medina County’s desire to promote and prioritize mental health for those in the community is truly remarkable and highly commendable.”

For the remainder of the project, Kenne and Laurene will continue working towards their initial goal, in addition to making sure Medina County schools are set up to provide mental health training to their teachers, staff and administrators once the project ends.

“Our community benefits from the sharing of resources and increased awareness of mental illness,” said Beal. “The true impact of the YMHFA training will be evident for years.”

Additional Information:

A.I.D. Training:

Medina County Aware:

Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board:

Youth Mental Health First Aid:

Deric Kenne, PHD:                                                           Kimberly Laurene, PHD:
Phone: 330-672-7105                                                                                         Phone: 330-672-0081

POSTED: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 12:47 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2023 10:13 AM
Kaylyn Lloyd