How To Help: Youth Mental Health First Aid
Today I experienced my first mental health training. Sponsored by TAOS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL and ROCKY MOUNTAIN YOUTH CORPS, I spent the day learning how to support young people in crisis who are at risk of causing self-harm and/or harm to others.
The course, YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID is straight-forward, incredibly informative and sobering. Victoria of RMYC did an excellent job facilitating a complex discussion. I’m honestly just beginning to understand how much weight young people today carry on their shoulders. I’m not a mental health professional, just a mom/ally committed to supporting young people in need where I can; how I can.
In a community where suicide is a reality of our culture and a scenic bridge is too often the medium used to end a life, the training room should have been packed. We should have all listened (as tough as it was) to the story of KEVIN HINES who at age 19 jumped from the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE — and lived to tell about it.
We should have all heard Kevin say to stop him from going over the railing of that bridge he just needed 1 person to ask, “are you okay?”. To hear Kevin say on the day of the attempt his father — who seemed to know something wasn’t right — just didn’t know the question to ask, was a reality check as a parent.
There’s a suicide every 12.8 minutes in the United States and New Mexico has the 5th highest suicide rate in the country. Stop expecting this discussion to ever be comfortable. Have it anyway.
When necessary, ask the question – are you thinking about or planning to commit suicide? And if the response is yes, without judgment, take time to better understand the extent of his/her plan.
Because maybe your 1 question is the anchor needed. Maybe he/she can’t find the words and like Kevin, needs you to ask, are you okay?
The room should have been packed but it wasn’t. I get it. We are all busy and overwhelmed. But friends, family, educators, caregivers, providers and allies cannot be silent or absent from the room any longer.
Like Justis says, you don’t need to be a superhero to save a life. You can help but will need the tools to know how.
In Taos contact Victoria at RMYC (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Eric Mares of CYFD (email@example.com) for details on when and where training is being offered. Outside of Taos, please start here – https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Advocate or ally, we need you. And our teens experiencing crisis and contemplating suicide need you far more.