Together, we are facing a host of collective traumas, including a pandemic, ongoing racial inequity and systemic reform. In the face of these challenges, young people have shown their ability to lead with resilience, bravery and kindness. Young people, schools and communities across the country are suffering, and young people need to be met with support and resources as they navigate the many changes in their personal and academic lives. The current environment makes protecting and promoting the mental health of teens more important than ever.
We all know a young person who has struggled with mental illness or addiction issues, but we don’t always know how to help them. That’s why the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Born This Way Foundation invite you to bring an important new peer-to-peer training program to your youth in the 2020-2021 school year — teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA).
tMHFA, an evidence-based training program, teaches students in grades 10-12 how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders among their peers. Developed using a consensus method and input from experts in youth mental health, mental health educators and young people who have experienced mental illness, tMHFA gives teens the skills to have supportive conversations and get a responsible and trusted adult to take over as necessary.
Half of all mental health issues begin by age 14; three-quarters emerge by the mid-20s; and sadly, about 70% of teens with mental health needs do not receive the care they need. tMHFA teaches students to:
First Aiders are already trained to help people in need. Expand your efforts by preparing those to whom teens are most likely to turn – friends and peers who may not know how to respond.
“Weeks before my classmate ended his life, he had told several friends about his thoughts of suicide,” said teen Mental Health First Aider Drew Voris. “Sadly, through no fault of their own, these teens had no idea how to support him.”
In three 90-minute or six 45-minute interactive classroom sessions, tMHFA delivers an Action Plan students will use to support their friends – Look, Ask, Listen, Help Your Friend. tMHFA can be taught remotely if social distancing protocols are in place.
We invite you to equip teens with the tools to support friends who may be struggling and connect them with a trusted adult. Together, we want to encourage young people everywhere to say to one another, “It’s OK to not be OK.”