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Young People Participate in Mental Health First Aid

31 Aug 2023 - Mental Health

Members of the Y NSW’s Youth and Community team facilitated more than 200 young people in a course on how to provide mental health first aid to their friends in a program to be rolled out across the Snowy Monaro and Central Coast in 2023.

Teen Mental Health First Aid is an education course that teaches teenagers about the different types of mental health problems and mental health crisis young people may face.

The course teaches participants how to recognise changes in a friends’ thinking, feelings or behaviour that may indicate the presence of a mental health problem. The course empowers young people to offer initial mental health first aid support and provides them with the tools to connect them with a trusted adult. 

Topics covered include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bullying and abuse, intoxication, non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

The course was held over 12 workshops to 220 young people with the participants improving their knowledge of mental health. The program aims to provide young people with the confidence and tools required to recognise anyone in their lives who might be struggling and provide support and suggestions.

As part of the program, the Y NSW staff also completed four days of facilitator training to enable them to deliver the course to young people. 

Central Coast Youth and Programs Coordinator, Virginia Walshaw led the program training and is passionate about the outcomes and potential for young people in these communities.    

“I love this program as it provides the ability to be able to engage with young people in a discussion about mental health, address myths and stigma as well as empower them to become vigilant around their mates,” she explained.

“While it is about providing them with the signs to look for in young people experiencing mental health challenges, we also provide the tools to help them know what to do, where to seek help and become active bystanders when it comes to youth mental health issues. 

“The discussions generated by the participants so far have been fantastic and challenging – just what we like to see from training of this nature,” added Virginia.

The project has now been delivered in seven schools across both regions and has included support units and two alternative education providers. 

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