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First Responder Training and Resources

“When individuals with special needs are in new or challenging situations or environments, they can feel uncomfortable, anxious, and frightened. This can be especially true during an interaction with a police officer or firefighter. Although police officers and firefighters are trained to handle a wide variety of situations, it is important that we recognize the characteristics of autism and other special needs and instinctively implement effective ways to interact with those individuals. Police and fire fighters should strive for new and different ways to serve their special needs communities. Obtaining training and having the Keep Calm Sensory Kit as a resource is an essential part of every police and firefighters' everyday carry equipment.”  

Stefan Bjes – Sergeant, Addison Police Department

Pediatric Mental Health for First Responders
Training and Resources for First Responders on Pediatric Mental Health

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Pediatric mental health refers to the emotional and psychological well-being of children from infancy to adolescence. It is important to recognize signs of mental health issues in children early so that they can be treated promptly and effectively. Common mental health issues in children include depression, anxiety, and behavior problems. Treatment for these issues can include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes such as exercise and nutrition. Parents and caregivers can also play an important role in supporting the mental health of their children by providing a safe and supportive environment.

Who should get trained on Pediatric Mental Health? 

  • Crisis Response Teams

  • School Resource Officers

  • Police Officers

  • Paramedics/Emergency Medical Technicians

  • Youth serving professionals

Types of trainings:

  1. Virtual Webinar or Zoom Training: Learn from Courtney firsthand about life raising a special needs son and discover the basics of mental health disorders in children and how to work with and respond to these amazing kids. ($100)

    • 2 hour trainings are provided through a multi-faceted approach and customizable to your department. Longer or multi session trainings will be provided for an additional fee.

  1. Comprehensive Pediatric Mental Health Training: Train your entire department over the course of multiple, pre-recorded sessions utilizing Mental Health Response training videos, and quizzes. 

Topics include:

  • What are mental health disorders in children and prevalence across the United States. 

  • Meet the children and their families living with MHD's

  • Types of Mental Health Disorders (9 roll call video sessions)

  • Response tactics when interacting with a child/young adult with mental health disorder(s). 

Training material will incorporate the following resources: Responding to the Invisible Child book (tactical response guide to mental health disorders in children, written by Courtney Willegal), family account videos, and mental health videos. 

  3. Speaking Engagements: Immerse yourself in the life of a child living with Mental Health Disorders and learn firsthand from a mother of two boys (10 and 13) who are living with multiple Mental Health Disorders about what life is like for her and her children and the millions of others kids living with Invisible Disorders. Discover how you as a First Responder can help during a stressful situation and recognize the visual clues a child will share with you regarding their mental health.

Keep Calm Sensory Kit

The Keep Calm Sensory Kit is a response tool used by First Responders and designed in collaboration with police and EMT’s to help special needs populations cope with their emotions, self-regulate, manage stress and help with restlessness during an emergency. Each tool/resource in the Keep Calm Sensory Kit was hand selected, tested and chosen by adults and children living with various mental health disorders.  The fidgets and tools were selected with the highest standards for quality, sanitation, and multi-person use top of mind. 

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