HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Teachers and support staff in Hillsborough County will soon undergo training to incorporate a mental health awareness curriculum into their classrooms.

  • Hillsborough couple worked to bring program to Bay area schools
  • Couple's daughter committed suicide 2 years ago
  • For more information on program, visit Hailey's Voice of Hope
  • More Hillsborough County stories

“This is actually about mental health awareness for students and how they can maintain their own mental health and their own awareness in the classroom,” said Hillsborough County School Board Member Cindy Stuart.

Hillsborough County high school teachers could start teaching the curriculum to students by next year.

Lisa Acierno and her husband worked to bring the program to the Bay area. 

Their daughter, Hailey, suffered from bipolar disorder and killed herself two years ago.

Acierno wants the curriculum to educate others who may not want to talk about mental illness.

"If they realize this is more normal than they think, maybe they'll start the dialogue and the discussion and there won't be such a stigma," Acierno said. 

The initial training course will be headed by the Jordan Binion Project, a national mental health organization that's already trained teachers throughout Washington state. 

Trainers will cover topics such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. 

The goal is to help students identify issues and get rid of the stigma that’s sometimes attached to mental illness.

“I think so many kids nowadays are finding out they have issues and they don’t know what to do,” Acierno said.

After their daughter died, the Aciernos founded a nonprofit called Hailey's Voice of Hope. The organization is paying for the $12,000 training for educators and staff.

Acierno is inviting any Bay area school, public or private, to participate. Eventually, the family hopes to see the curriculum being utilized in classrooms all over the Bay area.