Nightly News   |  August 25, 2013

Teachers taught to look for mental illness in kids

One program aims to prepare teachers to recognize students who may exhibit signs of a mental illness. But, but detractors say the pupils could get detrimental labels. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

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>>> from connecticut tonight, word that the state's child advocate has asked the judge to release the records of the sandy hook school shooter , saying his records are cue to learning about early development and the role this played in last year's massacre. so a new program in miami's dade county is taking the lead and training its teachers to look for the signs in troubled students.

>> reporter: once again, the horror of shots fired at an elementary school . in time in decater, gourge. a scenario that has become disturbingly familiar. eight months ago at sandy hook elementary, and even in columbine. works in the miami dade county schools are now being trained and to spot the warning signs of student mental illness . they include talk of suicide, high risk or behavior, withdraw, and persistent sadness.

>> less metal detection and more mental detection done in a respectable way.

>> reporter: it's paid for by the american psychiatric association . a miami dade county judge and mental health specialist related the program to school officials just before sandy hook .

>> maybe, just maybe, these kids will not -- and teachers will not have died in vain if we really do something to fix this very horrible, fragmented, antti wait kuwaited system that we call mental health care.

>> reporter: a new poll shows that mental health -- 59% favored more programs, and 33% wanted more security guards . students could be echl barsed or stigma tiesed. but he says catching it early helps treat the disease.

>> it's not like you're going to put a scarlet letter around the kid and pull him out of class. it won't work like that at all. on.

>> reporter: a newest to treat mental illness early before it leads to more violence in classrooms.