Glenville, W.Va. – Teacher interns within the Department of Education at Glenville State College recently participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training. The day-long course is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, and health and human services workers how to help adolescents (ages 12-18) who are experiencing challenges with mental health or addiction.
Topics addressed within the training included an overview of common mental health challenges for youth, a review of typical adolescent development, and a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.
The training was led by YMHFA certified instructors Dr. Grace Wine and Dianna Bailey-Miller. Wine is a GSC graduate and currently teaches English at Gilmer County High School and Bailey-Miller is the Mental Health First Aid Coordinator for The West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University.
“As educators, we teach the whole child. If the basic needs of a child are not met, our best efforts will fall short,” said Wine. “By understanding common problems, early warning signs, and proper intervention strategies, teachers can become effective ‘first aid responders’ as they are on the front lines meeting the needs of students.”
“As an instructor, I can’t express the importance of this course enough. Not only is it valuable to teachers, but anyone who works with children/teens in any capacity can benefit. Knowledge is power. Knowledge of the early warning signs of mental health issues, how to respond, and where to find support can save lives. You can be the difference,” added Wine.
“For the past four semesters, our student teachers have participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid training,” said Assistant Professor of Education Connie O’Dell. “This professional development has been extremely valuable for our interns and provides an overview of mental health risk factors and warning signs among adolescents. Student teachers continually comment on how much they appreciate the hands-on learning and role-playing activities during the training. We hope to continue this professional development with future interns, and we truly thank the presenters for their time and expertise.”
Activities during the training involve identifying typical adolescent developmental changes in contrast to early warning signs of mental illness, how to appropriately respond to someone experiencing a panic attack, fact vs. fiction about mental illness, auditory hallucination simulation, and talking to someone who has thoughts of suicide.
“This training helped to shed new light on situations that teachers witness every day,” said GSC teacher intern Bethany Spelock. “Because of this training I am able to notice signs, listen, and lead students to get help when they need it most. I hope to continuously use the information learned at this training to always help students.”
Participants receive a certificate following their YMHFA training that is valid for up to three years.