ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WKRG) — Employees of the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency are known for their efforts during hurricanes and other disasters. This year they are dealing with a different kind of crisis, mental illness.
Baldwin County EMA specialist Michelle Pennington said some people see the word “emergency” and call the EMA number to talk about mental health. With a new school year starting soon, Pennington is happy to be part of the conversation when it comes to kids’ mental health.
“With children or young people, one of the things to look out for is withdrawal, if they withdraw from their normal activities, if they lose interest in themselves, if they lose motivation, those are some of the things to look out for. pay attention,” Pennington said.
According to Pennington, 1 in 5 Americans has experienced a mental illness at some point in their lives, including a growing number of children. Pennington participated in “Mental Health First Aid” where she learned the proper ways to approach a child who may be struggling with their mental health.
“Come to them in a helpful way, in a non-judgmental way, and just say something like, you don’t seem to act today, something seems to be bothering you, do you want to talk about it and then just listen, listen without judgment” Pennington said.
Pennington said if someone calls the EMA looking for help, they do their best to direct the caller to national hotlines and other available resources. Click here to see a list of resources.