Spark Note: Youth Mental Health Training

“We cannot discuss people’s lives today, and the role of Jewish education in those lives, without discussing mental health.

EJewish Philanthropy, September 2020

During two days in October, youth professionals from a variety of teen serving organizations had the opportunity to gather for Youth Mental Health First Aid training. We covered issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. We learned to help identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. Small group discussions allowed us to role-pay possible conversations and reactions when faced with these signs. Twenty-seven professionals participated and received a certificate in Youth Mental Health training. 

This training was co-sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Jewish Education Collaborative and JumpSpark Initiatives and facilitated by Jaime Stepansky and Rebecca Brown, both licensed social workers at Jewish Family & Career Services.

Participants had the following thoughts and reviews about the session:

My name is Michael Drucker and I am the Operations Director at Camp Barney Medintz.  I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid training program because I am around children and young adults a lot and thought that if I could learn some skills that could teach me how to approach, listen and support someone who was struggling with a mental health issue, I would simply be more helpful in my role.  As a parent, I thought I had naturally learned how to recognize when one of my children or their friends was struggling with something, but this program taught me so many things that I did not know.  One of the primary things that I learned is that children and young adults simply want and need an adult figure whom they can trust.  I have always tried to be someone who relates to children and young adults so that they feel comfortable when speaking with me, and I now recognize how important that really is.  Thank you to JumpSpark for sponsoring this program and giving me an opportunity to grow.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course sponsored by JumpSpark brought together such a dedicated group of Jewish educators to learn more about mental health from licensed therapists and from each other. As the world continues to change, having access to extra support systems and discussing best practices (for in person interactions or zoom interactions!) is ever more important. The workshop helped me understand my role as a mental health first aider and made me more aware of the potential impact that I can have as an educator in the Atlanta Jewish community.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training I received from JC&FS (through their partnership with JumpSpark) was truly a transformational experience. Jaime and Rebecca did a phenomenal job opening our minds to the kinds of mental health challenges that young people may have, and the best way that we can support them. After receiving this instruction, I feel so much more confident in my abilities.

As an educator and childcare provider, I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid program. The (virtual) space was gender inclusive, as well as thoughtful in regards to how culture and environment affects how we administer mental health first aid. I deeply appreciated the small class size, open dialogue, and the emphasis on an individualized approach to each child. We were able to break down difficult scenarios compassionately and create care plans that felt realistic and attainable. I recommend this training whether you work directly with kids or not; the information is valuable and widely applicable.

Due to incredible interest, we have scheduled an additional training on Thursday, December 10th, 10am-3pm. If you would like to learn more and are interested in participating, you can register here.

  • Youth Professionals
  • Spark Notes
  • Mental Health

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