Youth Mental Health First Aid to host 100th class

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) has been offered by the BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity since 2013.  Since inception, we have successfully trained 1,711 individuals in San Mateo County.  The 100th class will be held at Puente, located in Pescadero.  Puente serves the San Mateo South Coast communities of Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar and San Gregorio.  They advocate for their communities and promote individual and community health and wellness.

YMHFA is an 8 hour public education program which introduces participants to unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents.  It builds understanding of the importance of early intervention and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.  YMHFA uses role playing and interactive discussions to demonstrate how to access, intervene and provide initial help.

YMHFA creates the time, space and safe environment for learning and understanding how to support youth by using empathy and compassion.  The outcomes indicate that:

  • 79% of individuals who completed the training report feeling more confident to recognize the signs of a mental health challenge or crisis.
  • 78% feel more confident to reach out to a young person experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.
  • 84% feel more confident to assist a young person to seek professional help.
  • 83% feel more confident to assist a young person to connect with community, peer and personal supports.

Not only do participants feel more confident recognizing signs, reaching out or assisting a young person, they are actually using Youth Mental Health First Aid in their everyday lives.

“If I see a student acting in a way that might suggest he/she is having some emotional difficulties, I am more confident to approach the student, ask questions and a couple of times I have suggested the availability of help in school and follow up with the students,” said one participant six months after the  training.

“I asked a student if they felt suicidal,” stated another participant who discussed the difficult but often crucial task of asking a young person about suicide. “I would have never felt okay to do this before the training.”

100 classes in, Youth Mental Health First Aid is still an invaluable resource for the community.

 – Natalie Andrade

 

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