ROBERTSDALE, Ala. (WKRG) —  Employees with the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency are known for their efforts during hurricanes and other disasters. This year, they are dealing with a different type of crisis, mental illness.

Baldwin County EMA specialist Michelle Pennington said some people see the word “emergency” and call the EMA’s number to talk about mental health. With a new school year starting soon, Pennington is glad to be part of the conversation when it comes to the mental health of children.

“With children or youth, one of the things to watch out for is withdrawal, if they withdrawal from their normal activities, if they lose interest in themselves, if they lose motivation, those are some of the things you need to look out for,” said Pennington.

According to Pennington, 1 in 5 Americans has experienced mental illness at some point in their life, including a growing number of children. Pennington took part in “Mental Health First Aid” where she learned the correct ways to approach a child who may be struggling with their mental health.

“Come at them in a helpful way, in a non-judgmental way, and just say something like, you don’t seem to be acting yourself today, something seems to be bothering you, do you want to talk about it and then just listen, listen non-judgmentally,” said Pennington said.

Pennington said if anyone calls the EMA looking for help, they do their best to guide the caller to national hotlines and other available resources. To view a list of resources, click here.