Valley Program Aids Understanding of Youth Mental Health Issues

Article excerpt

SHELTON » About 30 social service and health professionals, educators, and other community members recently learned how to help youths who have potential mental health issues.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training is the first one held in the region and only the third such training in the state, said Pamela Mautte, director, Valley Substance Abuse Action Council. "It's an evidence-based curriculum," she said.

Mautte and Lorrie McFarland, VSAAC prevention coordinator, led the training. It was sponsored by VSAAC, a program of BHcare.

The two-day program was held at the Valley United Way office in the former Lafayette School.

The focus is on preventing and identifying mental health disorders in youth. The curriculum includes teaching risk factors and warning signs for disorders such as anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings.

Participants split into groups and discussed how to best deal with a variety of scenarios dealing with adolescents.McFarland said sometimes one cannot really tell if what the youth is presenting is "typical adolescent behavior" or something more serious.The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan involves using ALGEE, an acronym that stands for:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm;

Listen non-judgmentally;

Give reassurance and information;

Encourage appropriate professional help;

Encourage self-help and other supports. …