Community Partnership Expands Teen Mental Health Program

More area teens will be able to get the mental health care they need thanks to the expansion of a program from Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

The Teen Mental Health First Aid program is being expanded after a successful launch last year at Kickapoo High School. The program, of which Kickapoo was one of eight locations in the nation, will now be open to 10th grade students at Central High School, Kickapoo High School, Parkview High School, Greenwood Laboratory School, and Springfield Catholic High School. Galena High School is opening the program to 10th through 12th grade students.

“We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community,” Chris Davis, Vice-President of Prevention and Youth Support, 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.”

Teen Mental Health First Aid is a program that teaches students about addictions and mental illnesses, how to identify a potential problem among their peers, and how to take steps to help a peer who might be facing a mental health crisis including considering suicide.

The course highlights the need of reaching out to a responsible adult even if it’s an uncomfortable situation.

“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,” Rhonda Mammen, SPS director of counseling services, said in a statement. “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.”

While expanding to more schools, the program is still in the pilot program phase and is under the oversight of researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. If the expansion shows the promise of the initial phase of the pilot program, it may be opened up to the public.

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