Are you First Aid Certified?
May 30, 2023
Kelly Majuri, Dual Enrollment Academic Coordinator
Technical College of the Lowcountry
I’m not talking about CPR. I am talking about becoming Youth Mental Health First Aid certified. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to complete a course in youth mental health first aid through a nonprofit South Carolina State entity called SC Thrive, which focuses on connecting people to crucial benefits that help build stabilized and healthy communities. After decades of working with students of all ages, this training has made me more equipped to work with our dual enrollment students and I heartily encourage anyone working with students to find a course in your area.
More than 20 million Americans experience a mental health challenge every year and given that we work with high school and college students, it is essential for us to know when and how to offer help should the need arise. The course teaches us how to recognize the signs and symptoms that suggest a potential mental health challenge, how to listen nonjudgmentally and give reassurance to a young person, and how to refer them to professional support. Being a Mental Health First Aider does not mean you can diagnose mental illness or prescribe a care pathway. Instead, it is about “showing up” and showing empathy to students who are struggling so that they can be connected with the help and resources they need. Early intervention means recognizing the warning signs of a mental health challenge and acting before it becomes worse. Early intervention helps to prevent symptoms from becoming more serious and lessens the overall impacts on the young person’s life. The objectives of this course are to learn the role of a Youth Mental Health First Aider, recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges that may impact youth, understand the impact of traumatic experiences (ACEs) and the role of resilience on adolescent development, and apply ALGEE - the Youth Mental Health Action Plan. These five actions steps do not need to be considered or applied in any specific order but provide a framework for helping our students:
A most often represents a first step and includes approach, but also assess and assist;
L stands for listen nonjudgmentally;
G stands for give reassurance, support, and information;
E stands for encouraging support and help for the student;
E stands for encouraging self-care and support for yourself as a caregiver.
I encourage everyone to learn about ALGEE, person-first language, risk and protective factors, and how you can make a difference in someone’s life by adding these tools to your educational toolbox.