MCS to present ‘Youth Mental Health First Aid’ sessions

MADISON – Parents, guardians and others who interact with children and teenagers can benefit from an online and a live session, “Youth Mental Health First Aid,” that mental health professionals in Madison City Schools are presenting.

Youth Mental Health First Aid will teach participants the ways to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among children and adolescents, 12- to 18-year-olds.

This resource involves a two-hour, self-paced online course. An instructor-led session will follow on June 13 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Journey Middle School.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, relatives, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers and neighbors. The session is designed primarily for adults who regularly interact with young people.

The course introduces common challenges for youth’s mental health, reviews typical adolescent development and teaches a five-step action plan to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD) and eating disorders.

The action plan for first-aid has five steps:

* Assess – Determine potential risk of suicide or self-harm.

* Listen – Pay attention to the youth’s words without judging the message.

* Give – Respond to the individual with reassurance and information.

* Encourage – Recommend that the youth pursues appropriate professional help.

* Urge – Suggest sincerely that the youth finds self-help and other support strategies.

Adults can apply first aid for mental health for someone experiencing panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, self-injury (but not suicidal actions), acute psychosis (for example, hallucinations or delusions) and overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or drug use.

Statistics from Youth Mental Health First Aid, National Alliance for Mental Illness, and General Psychiatry, respectively, show the importance of adults’ awareness to youth challenges:

* 10.2 percent of youth will be diagnosed with a substance use disorder in their lifetime.

* One in five teenagers and young adults lives with a mental health condition.

* Fifty percent of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 . . . 75 percent by the mid-20s.

The workshop fee is $35 fee to cover session materials and certification costs. For details and the registration link, visit madisoncity.k12.al.us/domain/2411.

For more information, email Stephanie Allen at slallen@madisoncity.k12.al.us.

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