Collaborative for Educational Services Begins Statewide Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Project

Home E CES Stories E Collaborative for Educational Services Begins Statewide Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Project
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Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 10/12/2018
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Northampton, MA — The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) Healthy Families and Communities department has received federal funding for a three year project that will provide Youth Mental Health First Aid training to educators, administrators and parents across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) will fund the project as part of their Mental Health Awareness Training Grants. The project will utilize the internationally recognized and evidence-based Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) program model, which is managed by the National Council for Behavioral Health.  Participants will be trained to be more effective at recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in youth aged 12-18, and appropriately refer those who would benefit from behavioral support services.

CES will train education staff of at-risk adolescent students within the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) programs. Adolescents entering the MA DYS juvenile justice system often come with significant and complicated trauma histories. Exposure to violence can lead to distrust, hypervigilance, impulsive behavior, isolation, addiction, lack of empathy, and self-protective aggression.

CES will also be training more than 500 teachers and administrators who work with high needs and/or at-risk students in public schools in rural Western Massachusetts. In addition, CES will work with organizations that support military families to offer YMHFA to parents and guardians of youth in military families. These youth and their families often experience the stress of separation for military deployments and other duties.

Adolescents are often dependent on adults for recognition of mental health problems, provision of support, and referrals for help. According to CES’s 2017 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey (PNAS), administered to 8th, 10th and 12th graders in public schools in Hampshire County, 35% of 8th graders and 43% of 10th graders report depressive symptoms, and 28% of 10th graders and 49% of 12th graders report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. 32% of 8th graders and 40% of 12th graders surveyed are considered high risk. Local behavioral health providers, including Clinical Support Options and ServiceNet, will assist with accepting referrals of youth with signs and symptoms of mental illness. The MA DYS will also work with CES on referrals through their extensive network of contracted clinicians/behavioral health providers across the state. Hampshire Veterans’ Services Department will partner with the project to help support the YMHFA trainings through the Family Readiness Groups at Westover Air Reserve Base and Barnes Air National Guard Base, and also through the Western MA Veterans Service Officers Association.

As part of the three-year project, CES will distribute over 1,500 copies of a comprehensive resource and referral guide of communi.ty services to the YMHFA trainees and partner agencies, including information to meet the specialized needs of the trainees and the service areas in which they work.

For more information, contact Susan Cairn, Director, Health Families and Communities, Collaborative for Educational Services.  413.588.5580,

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