United Way of Indiana County, the Indiana Area School District and the ARIN Intermediate Unit are pleased to announce that the county’s collection of youth mental health services will soon receive a new addition, thanks to the leadership and support provided by Armstrong-Indiana Behavioral and Developmental Health Program.
The three agencies, led by IASD Superintendent Michael Vuckovich, worked with AIBDHP Administrator Tammy Calderone to make this programming available to students, pending board approval, in the following school districts: United, Homer -Center, Marion Center, Penns Manor, Purchase Line and Indiana Area.
This partnership aims to implement an Adolescent Mental Health First Aid program for high school students in participating schools. All Indiana County school districts were invited to meet and discuss the program and assess whether or not they would like to participate in a systematic countywide approach.
During the various meetings, school officials and stakeholders acknowledged that the past few years have been especially difficult for students. Participating schools spent time discussing the need for increased mental health services for youth in Indiana County and hope that the program will provide one more tool teens can use to improve their own well-being and help others who they need it too.
Teen Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based training course that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health problems, mental illness and substance use disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder , eating disorders and addictions. Participants learn about local mental health resources, support groups, and online tools, and gain the skills necessary to communicate with and provide help to someone who is experiencing a crisis or may be developing a mental health or substance use problem. substances.
These issues are also being recognized by our students. At the Indiana-area high school, Vuckovich meets monthly with students from the IHS leadership group to hear from them firsthand about some of the challenges and opportunities students face, and mental health and wellness was something that resonated in the whole group. Therefore, this opportunity is directly aligned with the needs and concerns presented by students in the area.
There is a second program, elements of which many schools are already incorporating. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school personnel, peers, neighbors, health and human service workers, and other citizens caring how to help a teen (ages 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge or is in crisis.
Although the National Council for Mental Wellness brought MHFA training to the United States more than a decade ago, the programs initially focused on adults and those who worked directly with youth rather than the youth themselves. As part of this program, 10 percent of high school staff in each school district will receive training in Youth Mental Health First Aid, in addition to Adolescent Mental Health First Aid, which is funded by the grant.
Data from the National Council for Mental Wellness shows that the need for youth mental health support and early intervention is widespread across the country. Only in the US:
- 1 in 5 adolescents has had a serious mental health disorder at some point in their life;
- 50 percent of all mental illnesses begin by age 14, 75 percent in their mid-20s; Y
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.
This collaborative effort between United Way of Indiana County, Armstrong-Indiana Behavioral and Developmental Health Program, ARIN IU and six of the county’s seven schools has the potential to act as a catalyst to reduce emergency room and hospital visits to receive mental health care. as well as providing young adults with the education and knowledge necessary to care for their own mental health and that of those around them.