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Baldwin Co. EMA provides mental health resources to returning students

ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WKRG) – Employees of the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency are known for their efforts during hurricanes and other disasters. This year, they face a different type 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 beginning soon, Pennington is happy to be part of the conversation when it comes to children’s mental health.

“With children or young people one of the things to watch 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 you have to be careful about,” Pennington said.

According to Pennington, 1 in 5 Americans have suffered from 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 right ways to approach a child who may have mental health issues.

“Address them in a helpful, non-judgmental way and just say something like, you don’t seem to be acting on your own today, something seems to be bothering you, do you want to talk about it and then just listen, listen without judging,” Pennington said.

Pennington said if someone calls the EMA looking for help, they do their best to direct the caller to national helplines and other available resources. To see a list of resources, click here.