Why Youth Mental Health First Aid?

Published Monday, December 9, 2019

The statistics about young people and mental health are alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five American children ages three through 17 have a diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder in any given year. Eighty percent of these children—about 12 million—do not receive treatment. The suicide rate for children between the ages of 10 and 14 tripled between 2007 and 2017. In a recent survey, 67% of school superintendents listed improving mental health services in their districts as one of the top three funding priorities.

It is critical that we address the mental health challenges experienced by our youth, which is why Youth Mental Health First Aid® is so important. Youth Mental Health First Aid® is  an 8-hour, nationally recognized, evidence-based course geared for adults who work with and are connected to youth, including teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, and first responders. It enables participants to know and recognize the warning signs of mental health problems and substance use disorders in adolescents. Youth Mental Health First Aid® does not teach adults to diagnose or to provide treatment to adolescents but instead arms them with the skills they need to reach out and give initial support to those who are developing a mental health or substance use problem and help them connect to the appropriate care.

Since 2013, WJCS has been a driving force in the Youth Mental Health First Aid® initiative. Our expert trainers have trained nearly 1,600 participants over the past six years, half of whom were school staff. We understand and acknowledge the challenges that schools, first responders, youth group leaders, coaches, and parents face regarding youth mental health issues and are passionate about educating and empowering as many individuals as possible so we can make a difference youth’s lives.

Response to Youth Mental Health First Aid® trainings have been positive and powerful. Here are just a few comments from our participants:


“It was probably the most impactful and practical training that I have ever received in my professional life. Thank you for offering this!”


“This will help me deal with crisis/students when they need help.”


“I would recommend this training to my friends and family. I think it would be really helpful and interesting!”


To learn more about this invaluable opportunity and arrange a WJCS Youth Mental Health First Aid Training®, please contact: Paula Santa-Donato, LCSW, Director of Youth Services, at (914) 761-0600, ext. 2322; [email protected]

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