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Training for Teachers, Educators Learn About Teen Mental Health

Karen Ranft

Executive Editor

Seguin ISD has been granted the opportunity to participate in the pilot phases of Teen Mental Health First Aid (TMHFA), a new program which seeks to combat mental health issues in students, and provide adequate support for those suffering from mental health crises. This exclusive program was only available to 75 schools across the nation and is geared towards sophomore-aged students, as younger high schoolers are most at risk for developing mental illnesses.

“The aim of the Teen Mental Health First Aid curriculum is to educate,” TMHFA instructor Britni Mueck said. “We want to teach teens that it’s okay to ask for help and that it’s okay to not be okay. This program not only teaches awareness, but it also creates a safe space where students know they can reach out to their peers, teachers, and counselors.”

TMHFA hopes to equip students with the training needed to detect mental health challenges in their classmates and educate them on who to turn to in the event of an escalated mental health issue. The 5 session program provides students with an action plan to help identify the risk factors of mental illness, and develop the confidence needed to help someone else suffering from mental illnesses.

Studies found that 1 out of every 5 teens suffers from a mental disorder which leads to an increased likelihood of substance abuse, homelessness, and trouble with the law as well as an above-average dropout rate.

Five published studies in Australia found that MHFA not only expands the public’s knowledge of mental health, helping to decrease the stigma surrounding it, but it also saves lives. After receiving the course, participants were found to be more likely to advise peers to seek professional help and also noted having improved mental health themselves.

TMHFA trainers made their first appearance on campus on Thursday January 23 when they met with the teachers to introduce themselves and their initiative. During this meeting teachers were given an overview of the program and were alerted on the vital role they play in its successful implementation.

“When teachers put more effort into supporting their students, their academic performance increases tremendously,” mental health advocate and English teacher Amanda Tremaine said. “When I was a teenager I struggled a lot with my mental health. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder when I was 13. I wish I had more access to programs like this because surviving mentally is just as important as surviving physically.”

The first session will take place on February 24 during sophomore history classes.

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