Parents examine adolescent behavior in ‘Youth Mental Health First Aid’

MADISON – Adolescents’ often unpredictable and even negative patterns of behavior can puzzle parents. To help, Madison City Schools is offering a popular one-day seminar, “Youth Mental Health First Aid.”

This workshop for parents aims at improving the mental well-being of their children. The curriculum discusses common signs and symptoms for teenagers. These warning signs are anxiety, depression, eating disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. The material also explains common signs of substance abuse.

The session presents several sobering statistics:

* 64.1 percent of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment (“Mental Health America”).

* One in five teenagers and young adults lives with a mental health condition (“National Alliance for Mental Illness”).

* 5.13 percent of youth report having a substance use or alcohol problem (“Mental Health America”).

One in five teenagers from 13 to 18 years old lives with a mental health condition, according to the course material. Therefore, in a class of 25, five students are impacted with a condition.

Briana Hawkins and Heather Hicks, who are Social Workers in Madison City Schools, are leading the training. Session hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to help parents and guardians to teach their children various ways to manage their mental health.

The Jan. 30 and March 26 sessions are full. The coordinators are considering a third session because of the workshop’s popularity with parents.

Participants will learn a five-step action plan that covers how to assess the risk of suicide and to link a child to appropriate help. Parents also can learn risk factors, protective steps, warning signs of mental illness and management tips, Hawkins and Hicks said.

After completing the “Youth Mental Health First Aid,” parents will better understand the impact that mental illnesses have on a person, his or her family and the community. Other individuals who can benefit from the workshop are teachers, school staff, coaches, camp counselors and youth group leaders.

Workshop fee of $30 covers lunch and a participant book. For more information, call 256-464-8370.

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