Northwest High School Selected for teen Mental Health First Aid Pilot Program
Northwest High School is one of 35 schools nationwide to participate in the country’s expanded teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program during the month of November. The school will train the entire junior class this fall. The training is the first of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S.
“We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Chris Allen, counselor at Northwest High School. “The program will teach high school students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.”
tMHFA is an in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions, particularly how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among their peers. Similar to CPR, students learn a 5-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide.
The course specifically highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult. To ensure additional support for students taking the training, Northwest High School is planning to train a majority of the school's staff in Mental Health First Aid for Adults Working with Young People.
“We’re thrilled Northwest High School is one of the first U.S. high schools to participate in teen Mental Health First Aid,” said Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “Teens trust their friends, so they need to be trained to recognize signs of mental health or substance use problems in their peers. The number one thing a teen can do to support a friend dealing with anxiety or depression is to help the friend seek support from a trusted adult.”
“With teen Mental Health First Aid, we like to say, it’s okay to not be okay,” said Lady Gaga, co-founder of Born This Way Foundation, as she spoke with 16 students who completed the first tMHFA pilot in eight schools across the country. “Together, Born This Way and the National Council have put this program in eight schools. I know for certain that I’m not stopping here,” Lady Gaga continued. “I want the teen Mental Health First Aid program in every school in this country.”
tMHFA is an evidence-based training program from Australia. The National Council adapted the training with support from Born This Way Foundation and Well Being Trust. The pilot program is being evaluated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to assess its effectiveness. The training will be made available to the public following analysis of the pilot study. The training for Northwest High School is being implemented in partnership with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse-St. Louis Area.