Adults Who Interact With Teens Offered Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

With teenage suicide rates on an upswing, a barrage of tragedies in the news, and the heightened pressures of adolescence in a media-frenzied world, it’s more important than ever for caring adults to know how to intervene effectively.NewBridge logo

Morris County again this year is funding Youth Mental Health First Aid training through NewBridge Services for adults who regularly interact with children ages 12 to 18.The eight-hour, evidence-based training teaches parents, caregivers, educators, youth leaders and others the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and addiction in adolescents, and more importantly, how to reach out to them.

“With so many communities going stigma-free, this is a great way to start to educate residents about mental health issues and ways to reach out to young people who need assistance,” NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education Mary Vineis said.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training is particularly valuable for educators, school support staff, coaches, and religious leaders who work with teens, as well as parents, Vineis said.

Last year, NewBridge trained more than 120 people in Youth Mental Health First Aid and more than 60 in Mental Health First Aid for adults. NewBridge also offers training specifically for public safety professionals and educators in higher education.

Butler resident Chris Ziegler went through the training after his daughter’s 15-year-old friend and classmate died tragically last May. “I wanted to know more of what we could do as a community,” said Ziegler, who gave NewBridge’s Youth Mental Health First Aid training rave reviews. “You learn ways to let young people know you recognize something is going on, and that you’re willing to help.”

Mental illness affects an estimated one in five adolescents, yet less than half of preteens and teens with disorders get treatment, Vineis said. Recognizing the difference between normal growing-up behaviors and mental disorders is crucial. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24.

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches a five-step action plan. Anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders are among the topics covered.

A grant from Morris County will allow NewBridge to provide six community sessions free of charge to participants. The cost is normally $170 per participant. Community leaders and residents interested in taking the training can contact Vineis at mvineis@newbridge.org or 973-686-2228.