The Importance of Youth Mental Health First Aid

It’s difficult to put into words just how deeply I care and believe in Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

I watched one of my closest friend’s eyes lose their light as she starved herself nearly to death. I watched her refuse to take a break from studying all days of the week. Her anxiety told her A’s and perfection were more important than living.

I dropped a toothbrush and slippers off at a psychiatric hospital when another close friend decided life was just too much.  I still get chills of relief when I think of how brave she was to take that step, and to think she didn’t go through with the unthinkable.

I mentored countless freshman who confided in me the unbearable stress, loneliness, and unhappiness they were living with.

I watched myself transform from a happy college freshman into an anxious, underweight and depressed sophomore.  I did not understand nor have a name for what I felt; the isolation alone is a pain Youth Mental Health First Aid will prevent others from feeling.

Finally, I see myself in my younger sister, and I feel so grateful for the knowledge and skill set I learned from Youth Mental Health First Aid.  After the class, I made sure she understood that what she may feel is normal, she is not alone, and there is help.

I know this class will equip individuals with the knowledge to help improve and save young adults lives.  But the importance of the class does not stop their; I believe this class will change the way the world looks at mental illness.  I believe this class has the power to debunk the hurtful myths surrounding mental illness. I believe this class has the power to de-stigmatize mental illness.  And I believe this class has the power to justify and put a name to the pain many are feeling but do not understand.

The class teaches ALGEE, a 5-step mnemonic to help a youth in crisis:

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally
  3. Give reassurance and information
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies

I wish I had taken this course earlier, for these seemingly simply 5 letters could have helped me be a better friend, sister, daughter, and role model.  However, I feel privileged and grateful to know that I can help others in the future.

Contact Tri-County Health Network at 970-708-7096 or info@tchnetwork.org if you want to sign up for a Youth Mental Health First Aid training or schedule a class for your business or organization.

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