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Youth mental health first aid training offered

One in five families are affected by serious emotional disturbances or mental illnesses, and among youth, one in 10 youth has serious mental health problems that are severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or in the community.

In response to the need to better address a young person’s mental health issues in communities everywhere, a nationally acclaimed Youth Mental Health First Aid training course is now available in Kitsap County for adults who work with young people ages 12  to 18.

Five years ago, select KMHS staff became certified to train a Mental Health First Aid Course geared toward adult concerns, and have since provided trainings that have prepared nearly 500 Kitsap area citizens to recognize, provide support and secure assistance for an adult in need of assistance.

This year, a similar course designed to address youth mental health concerns has been made available for the public, and KMHS staff have received certification to deliver the eight hour course locally.

Youth Mental Health First Aid educates adults such as school staff, coaches, youth workers and volunteers about how to provide help to a young person experiencing a mental health challenge, mental disorder, or mental health crisis.

The course does not teach how to diagnose or to provide treatment but instead, like CPR training helps a non-medical professional assist an individual following a heart attack, Youth Mental Health First Aid training helps an individual who does not have clinical training assist someone experiencing mental health issues until appropriate help is received or until a crisis resolves.

Youth Mental Health First Aiders learn to assess a situation and respond to signs of mental health concerns, such as helping a person through a panic attack, or talking with someone who is anxious, depressed or possibly considering suicide.

The course teaches a 5-step process to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions and help an individual connect with appropriate care.

Participants are reminded that adolescence is a time of growth and change and has many stressors inherent in that development. They learn how to identify when typical development moves towards a mental health issue.

Participants also learn helpful strategies for approaching and intervening with youth regardless of what the issues presenting are, whether ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders or substance use disorders.

Participants engage in activities that build understanding of the impact of illness, and learn to assess for risk of suicide or harm, practicing the method rather than just learning about it, making it easier to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life situation.

Courses are scheduled in July and August for school faculty and personnel, and additional courses will take place this fall for the community.

For additional information, contact KMHS at communityrelations@kmhs.org or call 360-415-5801.

 

 

Kristine Clay Welch is Supervisor for the KMHS Intensive Children’s Services Program and a certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

 

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