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Youth Mental Health First Aid - Military Partnership

Mental health and substance use issues are widespread concerns and are often perceived differently than physical health. In the CDC Children’s Mental Health Report, adolescents and teens are reported at risk for depression and suicide, with one in five youth (12 to 17 years old) reporting having had major depressive episodes and almost one in five reporting serious contemplation of suicide. CDC recommends that parents, health care professionals, and teachers and school administrators take action to address mental health in youth, with a focus on early identification.

Purdue Extension provided the Youth Mental Health First Aid course 21 times during the year to concerned adults working with youth in military families. The course addressed signs and symptoms of youth and adolescent mental health and substance use issues, provided tools for first-aid level assistance to youth experiencing crises, and was available in-person and virtually. Focusing on mental health issues affecting youth (ages 12-17), topics discussed were anxiety, depression, substance use (including opioids), trauma, and deliberate self-harm. In addition, adults learn how to be a resource for those at risk for mental health and/or substance use, and gain skills to identify and support adolescents with mental health issues. There were 320 adult participants. Of those reporting (n=311) on the Council on Mental Health and Wellbeing’s post- evaluation, most identified as female (71%), and about half (46%) indicated having a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.

Nearly all (95%) indicated the training benefited their professional development or practice and said they would recommend this training to a colleague. One participant noted the most helpful portion was learning the helpful versus non-helpful approaches: It helped me realize that I need to change how I ask certain questions. Said another: Practicing skills and group discussions (gave) us an opportunity to connect with other childcare professionals experiencing similar issues. Another participant commented that they valued the group discussions because we have different backgrounds and work with a variety of populations and it was helpful to hear others’ challenges and successes. Purdue Extension’s Youth Mental Health First Aid helps adults learn about mental health issues and provide support to youth in military families.

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