Local nonprofit works to address mental health in schools

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - It’s no doubt that mental health is a growing problem in our society, especially for young people. According to Little Orange Fish, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the gaps in mental health care, school is one place in particular where students can get the help they need.

“Teachers are in a unique position to actually get more face time with our children, more than anybody else," says Daniel Adamek, the founder and executive director of Little Orange Fish. "So, they are uniquely positioned to identify when behavioral changes start and try to address them at their beginnings.”

That’s why the nonprofit has partnered with health simulation company Kognito to create virtual scenarios that help teachers spot signs of distress in their classrooms and provide tips on how to address them.

“We’re not trying to get teachers to be mental health experts. We’re trying to help them do what they are best at, and that is talk to the students and educate the students," says Adamek.

The simulations are provided for teachers at all education levels: elementary, middle and high school.

“The issues are different for those different age groups,” says Adamek.

They’re also guided by a virtual coach who helps provide appropriate phrasing in different situations that better allows students to open up about what they’re feeling.

“The real objective is to make the teachers feel more comfortable in engaging those conversations so they get the right outcomes that they’re looking for, and those outcomes are getting those students to the help that they need," says Adamek.

To learn more about the nonprofit and how you can get involved, visit www.littleorangefish.org.

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