Lori Beverage, Volunteer Learning Technologies Manager and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor:
One of the reasons I am passionate in my belief that Girl Scouts is the best place for girls, is the level of training and support we provide for volunteers and staff to ensure that girls are getting what they need to thrive. That’s why I am excited to be part of GSEMA’s commitment to make mental health first aid training a priority.
The statistics are staggering. According to the National Alliance for Mental Health, 1 in 5 teens and young adults lives with a mental health condition, meaning thousands of Girl Scouts within eastern Massachusetts may be in need of additional support. GSEMA staff and volunteers are role models, mentors, and trusted adults in these girls’ lives.
Last fall, GSEMA invested in a week-long, National Council for Behavioral Health training so I could become a Certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor and facilitate trainings for others. The eight-hour course, which is now available for GSEMA volunteers, teaches how to identify warning signs and risk factors of common adolescent mental health challenges, and best practices in supporting youth faced with mental health symptoms or crises.
Just as CPR training helps non-medical professionals assist others in emergency physical health crises, youth mental health first aid prepares non-mental health professionals to support children and young adults who may be struggling with their mental health.
And as mental health challenges can manifest in a variety of ways, including physical symptoms, youth mental health first aid training covers challenges from anxiety, depression, and psychosis, to eating disorders, self-harm, and substance use disorders. Trainees learn and practice assessing a mental health crisis, providing initial support, and connecting youth to additional support channels including professional, social, and self-care.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid training uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis, select interventions, methods for initial help, and how to connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care. You can learn more at mentalhealthfirstaid.org.
GSEMA is offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training to GSEMA volunteers at a subsidized price. We’ve already trained close to 100 people in the past year, and will offer more trainings in the winter and spring.