Palm Beach County Schools to start training parents and teachers on identifying mental illness

Training starts fall of 2013

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Rita Thrasher spent 40 years in the classroom. She realizes now, some of her students showed signs they suffered mental illness.

"Some children weren't just dyslexic, they had problems much deeper than that," said Thrasher.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is teaming up with the Palm Beach County School District to train parents and teachers to look for warning signs.

It's a priority in the wake of violent crimes like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. 

Student Intervention Specialist Kim Williams says parents are asking for the help.

"Parents don't know where to go or what to do. For so long they haven't come forward, and now they're saying help me," said Williams.

"They'll be prepped for when the behavior starts, parents will seek help and the teachers will be less inclined to turn their heads," said Thrasher.

Thrasher knows all too well how vital this can be. Her daughter committed suicide six years ago. She wishes there had been this kind of education when her daughter was young.

"We didn't know what to do, and the teachers she had didn't know what to do," said Thrasher. 

Thrasher believes with this new training, that could change.

For more information contact the National Alliance on Mental Health at (561) 588-3477. Or visit


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