Training offers mental health first aid for young people

 Training offers mental health first aid for young people

The mental health crisis is coming to Johnson County.

Data from Mental Health America’s online screeners in 2020-2021 showed that 87 people per 100,000 in Johnson County had severe depression and 80 per 100,000 reported frequent suicidal thoughts.

One in five young people experience a mental health challenge. Indiana’s youth suicide rate for teens ages 15 to 18 doubled between 2019 and 2020.

“This is truly tragic and alarming what our young people have been through,” said Hope Thompson, project coordinator for Upstream Prevention. “It wasn’t good before the pandemic, and the pandemic made it worse.”

Local mental health officials are working to address these issues, with a particular focus on helping young people who are experiencing a mental health challenge. Upstream Prevention organizes a Youth Mental Health First Aid course, training adults to regularly interact with people ages 12 to 18 so they can help young people in crisis.

“Like first aid in anything, it focuses on how you intervene, for a while, in the present moment – whether it’s an ongoing mental health issue, or a total crisis, what can you do? in the short term so you can connect them for more help, ”Thompson said.

Upstream Prevention is a local organization aimed at making system-level changes to improve public health, particularly in relation to preventing and reducing substance use among young people, improving the health of community thinking, and creating an environment conducive to healthy behavior for all citizens.

The group plans activities such as raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, working in schools and with young people to identify the signs of mental health crisis in their peers.

Gabriela Garcia, a 10th grader at Center Grove High School, underwent a Signs of Suicide training in January. In it, he knows the signs to look for to determine if a friend is facing a serious mental health problem.

“It’s almost recognizable if it’s a bad day, or if someone is having a hard time,” he said.

For Garcia, having that information is very important.

“I think it helped me to be more mentally aware of others and to be able to have something like that on my tool belt, just so I could help a friend when they needed it,” he said.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is one of the latest additions to Upstream. The training is designed to prepare people to help young people who may be struggling with their mental health.

Participants will learn the typical signs and symptoms of a mental health concern in this age group compared to the average progression in adolescents. Mental health problems in teenagers have unique risk factors and warning signs, so people are aware of it.

“It covers a wide range of things, anything from a young person starting to be aggressive, and how you interact with that, to a young person committing suicide to a young person. -on likely overdosing, and it hit psychosis, ”Thompson said.

People will also be educated on the importance of early intervention. Early intervention can make a big impact. The average length of time from the onset of symptoms to seeking treatment for a mental health concern is 8-10 years. As with any health issue, the symptoms of a mental health issue will worsen and affect daily functioning even more over time if left unresolved, Thompson said.

The training offers concrete steps on how to help a young person who is experiencing a mental health challenge or substance use, and gives you the resources to create a five-step action plan to help young people. -on in crisis and non -crisis situations.

“Not only will this training help take away the stigma of the mental health crisis, but it will help attract the importance that is there for people,” said Keeley Waters, who attended the course in April. “It really breaks down the myth that asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide puts that idea in their head. The training really helped the attendee feel comfortable asking that.”

Waters, the teen librarian at the Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library, has been trained as an instructor at QPR – short for Ask, Persuade, Refer – through Upstream Prevention. Participants learned how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to ask, persuade and refer someone to help.

As someone who works with young people, she feels it’s a natural extension of that job.

“It’s something that’s very important to me – that awareness of mental health and whether people might need a little extra help,” he said. “Having that extra focus on the mental health of young people feels really good.”

The training was a perfect mix of presentations and group activities, helping attendees look for signs or symptoms of crisis youth. She learned how to communicate with a young person they were concerned about, creating an environment so they were comfortable talking about mental health.

“You can see them that someone cares about them, and hold their hand while they’re in crisis mode, until you get help from a professional,” Waters said.

This training is offered free of charge to Johnson County residents and employees in good faith through a grant provided by Upstream Prevention from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

This is the fourth training offered by Upstream Prevention in the past two years.

Organizers hope that with nearly 30 people signing up for the training on June 3, more people will have the essential tools to help young people in their lives.

“If you look at this issue, the big thing is, what can you do? There are many things you can do, but one of the biggest is to educate themselves, whether it takes a training, whether it is lined up and getting information. They can talk about mental health – that’s simple, but it’s OK to talk about mental health, ”Thompson said.

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