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Teachers are Making a Difference in Student Health with Mental Health First Aid

Mental health is an issue that touches teachers and school administrators in their work across the country. ThriveNYC has teamed up with the Department of Education and the Department of Health to train school faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid to help them better support their students’ wellbeing and education.

Mental illness can have a detrimental impact on a student’s academic performance, social life and future. Mental Health First Aid empowers teachers and staff to be proactive about their students’ mental health by teaching them how to spot signs of mental illness, giving them the appropriate tools to effectively intervene. During the course, teachers learn how to approach a student who may be experiencing a mental illness and start that sensitive conversation with them. This understanding and ability is critical because early intervention has been proven to have positive developmental outcomes later in life.

The positive impact that Mental Health First Aid has had in schools is clear, according to David Rivera, Outreach Coordinator for New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The training helps teachers and administrators recognize certain mental health challenges that many of their students face. David explained that the training is especially useful to bridge the gap between schools and other community resources that could treat and support a student who is experiencing a mental health issue.

Mental Health First Aid also provides an opportunity for teachers to connect with one another in a different way—it helps them feel more comfortable opening up and having difficult conversations with each other.

“People like the opportunity to share personal stories, so the intimacy of it is a great bonus for those who’ve taken it,” said David.

Many schools are taking their efforts a step further by expanding the number of Mental Health First Aid trainers and languages in which the course is offered. These initiatives have had a positive impact on reaching not only students, but parents as well, and many of whom are first and second-generation immigrants.

The demand for Mental Health First Aid trainings is increasing by the day. Already 4,000 people within the Department of Education have received Mental Health First Aid training, reported Aimee Lichtenfeld, Director of Special Projects, Mental Health, Division of Operations. This benchmark demonstrates the extent to which those working in education are recognizing and embracing Mental Health First Aid as an invaluable tool to promote student health.

With Mental Health First Aid, teachers have the training and resources to positively impact a student’s entire life. But of course, Mental Health First Aid is not just for teachers and students. It’s for everyone. Register for a course today and see how it changes your perspective and life.