WASHINGTON D.C., Jan. 14, 2013—The National Council for Behavioral Health is offering an evidence-based training program to help citizens identify mental health problems in young people, intervene in mental health crises, and connect youth with care.
The program, Youth Mental Health First Aid, focused on youth 12 to 25 years, is being rolled out across the country after a year-long pilot. The adult Mental Health First Aid program has been delivered to more than 80,000 Americans through a network of 2,500+ instructors. The youth version provides an ideal forum to engage communities in discussing the signs and symptoms of mental illness, the prevalence of mental health disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and how to engage troubled young people in services.
The launch of Youth Mental Health First Aid coincides with the Born Brave Bus Tour hosted by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta’s Born This Way Foundation. The National Council is a partner on the bus tour which is comprised of interactive “tailgate” events in the 27 U.S. cities of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour, during which young people will meet to share stories of bravery and empowerment. Mental health professionals will be onsite to raise awareness of mental health and connect young people in need of support to local resources. Following the bus tour, the National Council and the Born This Way Foundation will offer Mental Health First Aid trainings in communities across the U.S.
“Similar to CPR, lives can be saved if more Americans know the warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents and understand the importance of early intervention,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council.
Rosenberg noted that after tragedies like Sandy Hook, people ask themselves what they could have done. No one knows what, if anything, could have changed the course of events, but public education can only be helpful. “We, of course, understand that no amount of training can guarantee horrific acts won’t occur, but being comfortable with openly talking about mental illness and engaging young adults, and their families, can increase the likelihood we may be able to help and intervene early,” said Rosenberg.
“It’s critical that people who spend a lot of time observing the behavior of adolescents intervene early, before a mental health situation becomes a crisis,” said Bryan Gibb, a Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer. “Research shows that the sooner people get help for mental health disorders, the more likely they are to have positive outcomes.”
The launch coincides with growing support in the US Congress for widespread adult and youth Mental Health First Aid training. This week, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Reps. Ron Barber (D-AZ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) sent letters to Vice President Biden asking his task force on gun control legislation to consider programs like Mental Health First Aid which focus long overdue attention on the mental health needs of Americans.