Continuing the Conversation on Mental Health with School Resource Officers

9-14-17 3When a young person is in immediate crisis, School Resource Officers (SROs) are often called to assess the young person and determine if the youth needs hospitalization. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) takes this process a step further by building empathy and understanding through listening non-judgmentally and giving reassurance and information, two steps from the YMHFA Action Plan, to the youth in crisis. Following protocols is essential, yet can be a difficult process for a young person who may be experiencing a mental health emergency. The hope in training School Resource Officers in YMHFA is to minimize the impact hospitalization may cause for a young student by building relationships, connections, and providing support.

In collaboration with San Mateo County’s Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Diversity of Equity (ODE), YMHFA was held at the Maple Street Correctional Facility on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Eighteen Youth Mental Health First Aiders graduated the course (seven of which were SROs) with representatives from the Belmont, Brisbane, Daly City, San Bruno Police Departments, San Mateo Police Activities League, and the Sheriff’s Office. This collaboration aimed to train SROs who often work with Youth at middle and high schools in San Mateo County. The seven SROs were trained to help a young person experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. One participant, Deputy Wally Rosales, mentioned that he “strongly believe[s] YMHFA should be included in the basic police academy curriculum, as the tools of knowledge provided by the YMHFA class will be invaluable to the molding of a new peace officer.” ODE hopes to continue bringing YMHFA to future peace officers.

A special thank you to Sheriff Bolaños, Sergeant Finato, Captain Kunkel, and Deputy Rosales.

Written by Natalie Andrade