Yesterday’s post discussed the worrying lack of resources available for communities when it comes to treating adolescent mental health. The question is thus asked: is there any way that these communities can still help? An important part of mental health treatment is identifying the illness in the first place and intervening early on, helping address it before it can worsen.
We pointed out yesterday that schools are one of the most important places to include some sort of resource to help with adolescent mental health, as it is incredibly accessible and one of the places where youths spend most of their time. Several schools are starting to take a note of this, and those who can are starting to include free trainings for adults to not only detect symptoms of illnesses like depression and anxiety in adolescents, but how to help care for them and respond in a crisis. Trainings like these have started to pop up nationwide, from Indianapolis, Indiana to South Boston, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The most common trainings used stem from the Mental Health First Aid program, a one day, 8 hour session that has been used by over a million people in the United States.
There are benefits in screening and identifying mental health problems in children and adolescents early on. Doing so can allow for programs and treatments to help lessen any of the effects that come with depression and anxiety, especially those that can build up and become more severe. Introducing these programs can also reduce the stigma associated with mental health. Schools using these trainings in particular can help you realize that the place where you spend most of your time sees how you’re feeling and tells you that it’s acknowledged and valid. This also helps to make an environment that causes a lot of stress make it a little less so.
While it can be a privilege to be able to access the trainings, this still shows that some steps are being taken to help recognize that adolescents may be going through more than just puberty. Having adults, especially those in schools, train to detect symptoms with mental health illnesses can be an almost necessary first step.
Do you think that these sorts of early detection trainings are something that should be obligatory for those who work in schools? Who else do you think can benefit from learning how to detect symptoms of mental health illnesses?