Westmoor High School Peer Assistants trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid

For the third year now, Westmoor High School offered the Youth Mental Health First Aid certification to students in their Peer Assistant class.  A total of 24 students were trained and certified in 2 days. The students were trained to identify signs and symptoms of different mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, and Psychosis.  The students also learned how to self-care and take care of others in the case of a crisis. Instructor’s Kathy Reyes and Natalie Andrade incorporated fun 10 minute dance parties to practice self-care, which the class enjoyed. Many of the students also enjoyed role playing different mental health scenarios and getting involved in the group discussions.  Concluding the certification the students decided to take a silly picture!

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1 in 5 youth will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8-hour public education training program designed for any adult or student peer working with or assisting young people, ages 12-24. In 2013, San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Office of Diversity and Equity partnered with the County Office of Education to begin offering this training to schools throughout the county. Classroom teachers, school site administrators, school office personnel, coaches, bus drivers, after-school providers, parents, teacher’s aides, school health aides, yard duty staff, crossing guards, peers and other school personnel are strongly encouraged to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders.

The certification at Westmoor High School was made possible through a collaboration between the school’s counselor, Ki Gaines, the peer assistance co-teacher, Mr. Vargas, and the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Office of Diversity and Equity.

For more information about YMHFA, visit http://smchealth.org/bhrs/ode/CommunityEd#YMHFA or contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org or 650-372-8548.

Article by Janette Ochoa, Intern with the Office of Diversity and Equity

2 comments

  • Many thanks to all of these students for taking the steps to help their peers. This program seems like it could have a huge effect at decreasing the stigmatization of mental illness and helping get at risk teens to appropriate resources. The results of the pilot study by Kelly showed that following the program, “students were more than five times more likely to consider a school counsellor as helpful for a young person with a mental health problem, and more than two times more likely to reject the stigmatising belief that you should not tell anyone about a mental health problem. Students were also four times more likely to report feeling confident in helping a peer with a mental health problem after receiving the teen MHFA training.” It is my personal belief that we should continue to encourage and support programs like this one. (Kelly CM, Mitten JM, Fischer JA, Kitchener BA, Jorm AF, Lowe A, Scanlan C.‘teen Mental Health First Aid’: a description of the program and an initial evaluation. Int J Ment Health Syst 2016; 10: 3.)

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  • • Many thanks to all of these students for taking the steps to help their peers. This program seems like it could have a huge effect at decreasing the stigmatization of mental illness and helping get at risk teens to appropriate resources. The results of the pilot study by Kelly showed that following the program, “students were more than five times more likely to consider a school counsellor as helpful for a young person with a mental health problem, and more than two times more likely to reject the stigmatising belief that you should not tell anyone about a mental health problem. Students were also four times more likely to report feeling confident in helping a peer with a mental health problem after receiving the teen MHFA training.” It is my personal belief that we should continue to encourage and support programs like this one. (Kelly CM, Mitten JM, Fischer JA, Kitchener BA, Jorm AF, Lowe A, Scanlan C.‘teen Mental Health First Aid’: a description of the program and an initial evaluation. Int J Ment Health Syst 2016; 10: 3.)

    Like