Majority of highschoolers will learn some first aid in health class, either the Heimlich maneuver, how to treat a wound or CPR.
However, in a time of suicide and overdoses, health experts and teachers are pushing for a different approach to first aid lessons in high schools. Mental health first aid: a tool kit for young adults on how to recognize and handle a friend in a crisis.
A new initiative with known as teen Mental Health First Aid, backed by superstar and mental health advocate Lady Gaga, commenced their first pilot program in eight high schools across the country and due to the success and reviews, they plan to expand it this fall.
“I know what it means to have someone support me and understand what I’m going through, and every young person in the world should have someone to turn to when they’re hurting,” Lady Gaga posted in a Facebook video. “It saved my life, and it will save theirs.”
The program is constructed for young adults and teaches teens and people who work close to them on how to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse. The National Council launched the pilot program for Behavioral Health supported by the Born This Way Foundation, a well-known non-profit co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta.
As the country is in the middle of a national opioid crisis, the pilot program could not come at a more crucial time. Addiction and overdose deaths are not only affected adults; however, are impacting kids and young adults as well. The alarming rates of depression and other mental health disorders have skyrocketed among the young as the result of neglect of education or awareness.
“Young people are often, surprise, surprise, not turning to an adult when they have a problem. They’re turning to a friend. So if we’re only preparing adults to deal with these situations, we’re just missing a huge piece of the puzzle,” Rachel Martin, deputy executive director of the Born This Way Foundation, stated in a press release conference.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14 and 75 percent by the age of 24.”
“Young people want these programs. They want to learn coping skills. They want to help their friends. They’re hungry for these tools, we need to do a better job of helping them,” Martin added.
A teacher at Valley High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the eight selected schools, labeled the teaching program to the schools senior class was one of the most fulfilling parts of his teaching career.
Kids will learn how to engage and listen to their friends, talk to each other, and connect a friend to a trusted adult or source that will help them.
“We know anecdotally from the schools that have piloted the program that it’s already changing lives. It’s normalizing mental health conversations, and it’s enabling youth to feel OK asking their friend how they’re doing,” Schwartz noted.
Participating students will also learn tactical skills such as what a “recovery position,” is. Along with how to ensure a friend who has passed out due to drinking or drugs does not suffocate or choke until the medics arrive, as well as the Good Samaritan Law, which allows necessary legal protection in some states for someone helping a person who is injured or in any danger without the fear of prosecution.
famed superstar and open former drug user, Lady Gaga has used her star power and transparency about mental health, along with her mother to advocated the pilot program and was the main reason for launching it so soon.
“Lady Gaga’s endorsement and the fact that she’s been so open talking about her mental health problems and the importance of teens taking care of their mental health is a crucial part of the visibility of bringing the teen version in the U.S.,” Schwartz announced.
In addition to the recent events, Lady Gaga’s mother was given the title as the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Mental Health.
To analyze the data and success rate of the pilot program, Johns Hopkins University will collect anonymized results from the pilot program. If all is proven correct, the program will plan to expand to about more 20 schools in the upcoming fall.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider. Helping individuals looking for the right treatment programs in their area. Also providing information on drug rehab centers for addiction recovery.