Presentation to school principals takes on issues of mental health care, suicide prevention

December 12, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

By ROSE O'CONNOR
Ellington Cms

Recognizing the critical need for school administrators to be equipped with the necessary resources to understand and address mental health care and issues affecting the students in their care, the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools welcomed Tricia Baker, the founder of Attitudes in Reverse (AIR), who served as a speaker during the principal’s professional development day Nov. 17 in St. Ann School, Lawrenceville.

As explained by Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, this year, “a thoughtfully structured professional development program that focuses on the health and safety of our students, teachers and schools has been implemented.

“Concentrating on one area throughout the year, such as health and safety, allows us to go deeper in our discussion and offers more latitude when we present these resources on a diocesan level,” he explained.

He was pleased to welcome Baker and AIR to the professional development day.

“She was able to explain the health concerns that affect students and discuss the issues that our administrators are up against,” he said, acknowledging that he received positive feedback from school administrators.

“She was well-received. The discussion was tough, but necessary. Having this information gives our administrators traction and resources for parents, who are a critical piece in this puzzle.”

Baker’s personal journey was the impetus for the creation of AIR, following the loss of her son Kenny who died by suicide at the age of 19 after struggling with anxiety and depression. AIR offers a comprehensive mental health plan for youth, young adults, parents, teachers and school staff. Its mission is to provide an all-encompassing education about mental health disorders and suicide prevention. It also stresses the importance of inclusion, so that no one is misjudged or criticized because they have a biological-based brain illness. AIR believes that all people, no matter what their differences, should be treated with respect and kindness.

The inclusion of therapy dogs in AIR educational programs is a thoughtful and compassionate approach to addressing the sensitive topics of mental health and suicide prevention. Therapy dogs accompany volunteers during all AIR school visits from elementary through college-age, as discussing mental health and suicide prevention can be difficult topics. After the presentation students are encouraged to visit with the dogs if they are feeling stressed or have been affected negatively by the material.

To learn more about Attitudes in Reverse, their educational programs, resources and therapy dogs visit: https://air.ngo/

Rose O’Connor serves as digital and social media manager in the diocesan Office of Communications and Media



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Recognizing the critical need for school administrators to be equipped with the necessary resources to understand and address mental health care and issues affecting the students in their care, the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools welcomed Tricia Baker, the founder of Attitudes in Reverse (AIR), who served as a speaker during the principal’s professional development day Nov. 17 in St. Ann School, Lawrenceville.

As explained by Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, this year, “a thoughtfully structured professional development program that focuses on the health and safety of our students, teachers and schools has been implemented.

“Concentrating on one area throughout the year, such as health and safety, allows us to go deeper in our discussion and offers more latitude when we present these resources on a diocesan level,” he explained.

He was pleased to welcome Baker and AIR to the professional development day.

“She was able to explain the health concerns that affect students and discuss the issues that our administrators are up against,” he said, acknowledging that he received positive feedback from school administrators.

“She was well-received. The discussion was tough, but necessary. Having this information gives our administrators traction and resources for parents, who are a critical piece in this puzzle.”

Baker’s personal journey was the impetus for the creation of AIR, following the loss of her son Kenny who died by suicide at the age of 19 after struggling with anxiety and depression. AIR offers a comprehensive mental health plan for youth, young adults, parents, teachers and school staff. Its mission is to provide an all-encompassing education about mental health disorders and suicide prevention. It also stresses the importance of inclusion, so that no one is misjudged or criticized because they have a biological-based brain illness. AIR believes that all people, no matter what their differences, should be treated with respect and kindness.

The inclusion of therapy dogs in AIR educational programs is a thoughtful and compassionate approach to addressing the sensitive topics of mental health and suicide prevention. Therapy dogs accompany volunteers during all AIR school visits from elementary through college-age, as discussing mental health and suicide prevention can be difficult topics. After the presentation students are encouraged to visit with the dogs if they are feeling stressed or have been affected negatively by the material.

To learn more about Attitudes in Reverse, their educational programs, resources and therapy dogs visit: https://air.ngo/

Rose O’Connor serves as digital and social media manager in the diocesan Office of Communications and Media


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