A first aid training program to help educators spot signs of mental health issues was offered Nov. 7 to 90 teachers and staff members from Gloucester High School. The full-day training is part of a program called Youth Mental Health First Aid, and uses real-life scenarios to teach the educators how to spot potential mental health crises among their students. A certified trainer and licensed mental health counselor from Lahey Health Behavioral Services led the training.
“The goal is to teach people how to use the skills they learn for treating mental health issues in the same manner as CPR is used for physical health,” said Nickey Mullen, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Director of the Employee Assistance Program at Lahey Health Behavioral Services.
Nationwide, more than 1 million people have been trained in Mental Health First Aid, which is in the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs. The program is overseen by the National Council for Behavioral Health.
“The goals of the National Council are to address the stigma of mental health issues and to provide hope and resources for people suffering from mental health and substance abuse challenges,” Mullen said.
“Our teachers work closely with students every day, and we want to give them the confidence and tools to identify students who might be struggling and to help students get the assistance they need,” Gloucester High School Principal James Cook said.
Lahey Health Behavioral Services plans to host other Mental Health First Aid trainings at various community locations. The curriculum can also be tailored to adults, older adults, veterans, higher education and public uniformed safety officers.
In addition to its work with Gloucester High School, the team provides training for police departments, EMTs, schools, youth programs, hospitals, parent groups and other organizations. The training is specialized for those who work with youth or for those who work with adults.
Mental Health First Aid is a nationally and internationally standardized, evidence-based program that is offered to anyone interested in being trained in it to know and recognize the signs and symptoms of behavioral health problems and crises. It also teaches trainees how to support those who are facing a crisis, and where to refer for appropriate professional care. Just as CPR helps people assist someone having a heart attack, this course provides tools to help identify, understand and appropriately support someone experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. Learn more at the national website.