By: Maggie Zangara
On November 20, 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting training hosted by Venture Outdoors. The name of the training was Youth Mental Health First Aid, and it took place at Venture Outdoors through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. A fun fact is that Lady GaGa, who is a first aider herself and an advocate of the program, has set a goal of getting 150,000 people trained this year.
The intent of the training was to teach family members, teachers, school staff, health and human services workers and other caring citizens how to help adolescents who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The training covered the mainstream mental health challenges and disorders our youth are being faced with today, and how important it is to support children who have encountered these difficulties. As we all can imagine, the road to recovery from mental health and substance use disorders is a process of change that individuals can only achieve through improved assistance, wellness and awareness. Part of being a certified Youth Mental Health First Aider is to do just that: to assess risks of adolescence, listen nonjudgmentally, give reassurance and information, encourage appropriate professional help and encourage self-help and other support strategies. This is known as AL-GEE and is the action plan to help adolescents improve their mental health.
It was such a great professional development training to attend, and I feel confident from the training that I will be to provide mental health first aid to children struggling with mental health challenges while I am working at Venture Outdoors and through my other endeavors as well.