Every year, districts are given the right and responsibility to implement and deliver professional development that is authentic to their needs.  Due to the comprehensiveness of youth behavioral health, staff professional development should be strategically planned and interconnected across academic years.  When designing professional development for school staff that meets the definition of evidence based, district administrators should focus on all aspects of the continuum within behavioral health: promotion, prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.

North Dakota Century Code 15.1-07-34 outlines Youth Behavioral Health Professional Development and requires that each school within a district shall designate an individual as a Behavioral Health Resource Coordinator who will receive pertinent behavioral health information.  Schools will locally decide how to utilize the content or resources provided and information is shared via B-HERO with the goal of establishing a system where resources on mental health awareness and prevention resources can be disseminated in a streamlined manner to a consistent person within schools. Schools are required to provide this information on the MIS03 every year.  


Senate Bill 2149, introduced and passed during the 2019 North Dakota 66th Legislative Session, requires that each school within a district shall designate an individual as a Behavioral Health Resource Coordinator. Districts are not required to hire a person for this specific role, rather to designate an existing staff member to fulfill this role.  North Dakota Century Code 15.1-07-34

The Behavioral Health Resource Coordinator role is described as the following: “The identified Behavioral Health Resource Coordinator will receive pertinent behavioral health information.  Schools will locally decide how to utilize the content or resources provided.”

Senate Bill 2313 also is relevant to the Behavioral Resource Coordinator. A new subsection to section 50-06-05.1 of the North Dakota Century Code was also created this legislative session. This section of code relates to the duties of the Department of Human Services and requires the Department of Human Services to do the following: “To provide resources on mental health awareness and suicide prevention to the Behavioral Health Resource Coordinator at each school. The resources must include information on identifying warning signs, risk factors, and the availability of resources in the community.”

The goal of this work is to establish a system where resources on mental health awareness and prevention resources can be disseminated in a streamline manner to a consistent person within schools.  Schools have the ultimate decision in determining that best fit for this important role and how to utilize the information and resources they receive.

Schools will be required to provide this information on the MIS03 beginning the fall of 2019.

988 Lifeline

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available.  

Call or Text 988 or chat  

In North Dakota, we all know too well, how deaths by suicide affect our students, families, schools, and communities. In North Dakota, suicide is the second leading cause of death in ages 10 to 24. Schools are a key setting for suicide prevention. Administrators, teachers, school-based mental health providers, and all other school personnel who interact with students can play an important role in keeping them safe.

School personnel have a legal and ethical responsibility to recognize and respond to suicidal thinking and behavior. Because it is impossible to predict when a crisis will occur, preparedness is essential to guide school actions for all districts. The North Dakota School Boards Association encourages the adoption and implementation of comprehensive suicide prevention templates. Districts should also review the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention.  For further information on these templates or to request a copy, please contact the NDSBA office at (800) 932-8791. 

Professional Development/Resources

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two-day workshop designed for all community members. The goal is to enhance a caregiver's ability to assist a person at risk of suicide.
  • The Jason Foundation, Inc. series of online Staff Development Training Modules provide information on the awareness and prevention of youth suicide. These training modules are suitable for teachers, coaches, other school personnel, youth workers, first responders, foster parents, and any adult who works with or interacts with young people or wants to learn more about youth suicide. Modules are provided at no cost to those requesting the programs.
  • FirstLink Suicide Prevention Trainings offers trainings and workshops to community members on a variety of topics. 
  • Kognito is a free, virtual role-playing simulation to help school personnel learn to recognize the signs of distress, use conversations to approach a student and discuss concerns, and, if necessary, refer parents/students to appropriate resources. The simulations allow school personnel to practice these challenging conversations at their own pace by role-playing with emotionally responsive virtual students.
  • Kognito’s Friend2Friend simulations improve school climate by helping middle and high school students cultivate the knowledge and skills to navigate difficult real-life situations, which leads to positive outcomes both in and out of the classroom.
  • Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) An emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons. The QPR Institute offers comprehensive suicide prevention training programs, educational and clinical materials for professionals, institutions, and the general public. This is a one- to two-hour training; districts can work with instructors to ensure the training meets the requirements of the law.
  • More Than Sad, developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is an educational program that assists teachers and school personnel in learning more about teen suicide and how they play a role in its prevention. It features two films, each approximately 25 minutes in length, and a manual that integrates both films into a comprehensive suicide prevention program.
  • safeTALK is a half-day alertness workshop that prepares individuals to become a suicide-alert helper. Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with pain in their lives. The safeTALK workshop will demonstrate the importance of suicide alertness and identify ways people invite help when they’re at risk. safeTALK provides practical knowledge of how to identify someone at risk and link them to life-saving resources. FirstLink in North Dakota also offers the training. 
  • Sources of Strength is an evidence-based prevention model for suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse. Local schools receive training for peer leaders and staff to build trusted relationships, increase awareness of risk behaviors, and support/referrals for struggling students.