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Louisa-Muscatine teachers participate in mental health training

Nearly every teacher was afraid of ‘saying the wrong thing’ when talking to their students about depression but with training, classrooms are a more...

MUSCATINE, Iowa -- Two days before school started, teachers in the Louisa Muscatine Community School District focused on developing mental health awareness skills and building meaningful relationships.

During the two-day training, organizers with Please Pass the Love, a nonprofit based out of Des Moines, asked teachers the one thing they were afraid of when it came to talking to their students about depression.

Nearly all of them said 'saying the wrong thing.'

"I think that a lot of teachers know things that they should be doing and talking to students about, it's just a good reminder of all things that that we also need to do on top of our content and lessons," a high school English teacher in the district, Bailie Bonnichsen said.

Bonnichsen said during the training she learned different ways to make her classroom a safer environment for students. She spent the first week of class running team building workshops so students could get to know one another better.

Nearly every K-12 teacher and paraeducator in the district attended the optional training.

"They said it was really valuable," organizer of the training, Christina Meierotto said. "They didn't realize all the issues that some students are going through so knowing better ways to support our kids are really helpful."

Meierotto is a school counselor and set up the event because she believes depression is becoming more common in schools.

The training aims to make the classroom a more open environment.