Youth Mental Health First Aid USA is an 8 hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.
WHAT WILL PARTICIPANTS LEARN? The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan: Assess for risk of suicide or harm Listen nonjudgmentally Give reassurance and information Encourage appropriate professional help Encourage self-help and other support strategies The Youth Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adolescents and transition-age youth, ages 12-18.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THE COURSE? The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.), but is being tested for appropriateness within older adolescent groups (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction. In January 2013, President Obama recommended training for teachers in Mental Health First Aid. Since 2008, the core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to hundreds of thousands of people across the USA, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement, and the general public.
“The training was well-received by our staff.…Focusing on mental health has helped to develop a shared sense of caring in our school district and in the community. Additionally, it has answered many of the questions our staff members faced after experiencing the heartache of student suicides. Finally, parents and community members know that we are doing everything we can to protect the overall health our most valuable assets — our students.” –Robert Underwood, Superintendent of Indian Lake Local Schools (via Ohio.gov)