Over the past ten years, a remarkable new movement has been spreading across the country teaching Americans how to help individuals experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis. Through Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid, more than half a million people have been trained to date. The course was originally created by Mental Health First Aid Australia in 2001, and The National Council for Behavioral Health brought it to the U.S. in 2008.
Youth Mental Health First Aid is a health literacy course, much like traditional Red Cross First Aid. However, the idea behind Mental Health First Aid is to teach individuals how to take a pro-active approach by looking for early signs that may indicate mental health problems. Like any other health challenge, the sooner we identify the problem, the better chance we have of seeing a positive treatment outcome. Youth Mental Health First Aid has the potential to make a real difference in the life of a young person.
Youth Mental Health First Aid classes are primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people between the ages of 12 and 18. You don’t need to have any background as a mental health professional to benefit from the classes. In fact, they are designed for the general public. The most important things you need are an interest in learning, and a desire to help young people. Parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, and health and human services workers are all uniquely positioned to see the signs of a mental health issue in young people and would benefit from taking the course.
In a fun and engaging atmosphere, instructors teach participants how to identify signs of mental illness, how to talk comfortably with someone about it, and how to best guide a person to get help. Participants engage in thought-provoking exercises to understand how it might look and feel to be in distress, and practice talking to each other one-to-one. At the end of the day, participants become more comfortable and confident in the role of helper. Classes are available right here in Adams County. The free 8-hour course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. You can expect to cover topics like anxiety, depression, substance use, suicide, and disorders in which psychosis may occur.
If you’d like to learn more about Mental Health First Aid, visit us online. You can also see a full schedule for both the Adult and Youth Module courses that are coming up. Are you ready to be a “one in a million” Mental Health First Aider? If you have any questions, please call Community Reach Center (303) 853-3500, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.