Teen Mental Health First Aid

NCADA was honored to be chosen as one of 35 pilot sites nationwide for the new Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) program. We will partner with Northwest High School in Jefferson County to launch the pilot program with the junior class. This training expands our menu of peer-education programs which empower young people to support each other. NCADA is continuing to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid for adults who work with adolescents (see the Events Calendar in this issue).

tMHFA, an in-person training for grades 10 to 12, teaches students about mental illnesses and 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 friends who may be facing a mental health problem or impending crisis (such as suicide), and highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult.

Addressing the mental health needs of teens is critically important. Half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and three-quarters by the mid-20s. Left unaddressed, mental health issues can lead to serious consequences for young people, including increased risk of dropping out of school or experiencing homelessness. Tragically, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Recognizing the early signs of mental health and substance use disorders is necessary to build healthier communities.