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