Studies show the onset for half of all mental health and substance use disorders in the U.S. is age 14 and 75 percent of behavioral health problems will begin to develop by age 24. Because mental illness and substance use disorders typically develop in adolescence or young adulthood, identification and early intervention are the most important and most effective prevention strategies.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid curriculum was developed to specifically highlight information participants can use to pinpoint the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents ages 12–18. Most notably, the session touches on how to best support those experiencing the most common mental health challenges among youth, such as AD/HD, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and eating disorders.
While similar to the Adult module, the Youth session is designed for adults who work closely with youth, such as faith leaders, youth group leaders, and school staff.
For this reason, the workshop can be used to train congregations who have mentorship programs with neighborhood schools or community centers, host summer camps, or hold after-school programs with the knowledge and skills to support youth mental health and well-being.
So far this year, Youth Mental Health First Aid has been hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church in The Woodlands and at Camp Allen for staff and volunteers. We are encouraging congregations to host the workshop for those who work closely with youth in their ministries and outreach across the diocese, especially in Austin and East Texas.