Kickapoo High School is one of only eight high schools in the United States selected to be part of a new program to help students recognize when their friends or classmates may need mental health help and how to reach out to get help they need.
The school will be working with Community Partnership of the Ozarks in a pilot program for the teen Mental Health First Aid program. The program provides in-person training for high school students on mental health issues and addiction problems. It will focus on how to identify classmates or friends showing the signs of addiction or mental health problems and how to help them using a 5-step action plan.
“We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community,” Chris Davis, Vice-President of Prevention and Youth Support for Community Partnership of the Ozarks, said in a statement. “The program will teach students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.”
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health will be monitoring the program to assess its effectiveness. The program was originally created in Australia and the pilot program that includes Kickapoo is the first time the program is being tested in a nationwide scope.
Springfield Public Schools will also be providing support for the program with several staff members who have been trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid. A major part of the tMHFA program is reaching out to a trusted adult when a student is concerned a friend or classmate is in mental health trouble.
“This will be a great benefit to our students and will seamlessly integrate with the many other efforts we have been implementing at SPS to promote mental health awareness,” explained Rhonda Mammen, SPS director of counseling services. “Equipping our students and staff to recognize early warning signs is a key step in supporting students who are struggling and connecting them with the help they need to live positive, healthy lives. We will begin training our sophomores next week so they will become the first students in the country certified in tMHFA.”