In this file photo from November 2016, a school bus drives students home from Piscataquis Community Elementary School. Credit: Micky Bedell / BDN

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The Dec. 5 BDN article’s topic, “Middle school mental health crisis” is not new to educators and school counselors, but I believe they have failed to create an effective response.

“Training educators and community leaders on the gatekeeper model, which helps adults identify children who are struggling….” with mental health issues is the key point made by this article. Whatever “model” it’s called, the response should be a comprehensive Student Assistance Program (SAP) in every school in the state that begins with “admission and acceptance” of the challenges facing our students and a “willingness” to do whatever it takes to “save our children.”

The commitment to face this problem has to come from the state, school boards and administrations. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a mental health “first aid” training program for school adults helping them recognize mental health warning signs of children. And yes, include the janitors, office staff, bus drivers, etc. in the training who are often the first to observe mental health needs of children. The whole adult staff gets trained and becomes the core of the ongoing SAP or “gatekeeper” model.

It’s a no-brainer! Has leadership from state and school administrations been AWOL?

Peter Duston