Armed with the knowledge that 1 in 5 youth experience a mental health challenge at some point in their life, and a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, JumpSpark (a Federation Innovation Initiative) is launching Youth Mental Health First Aid. The program trains adults to better assist youth experiencing mental health challenges or crises. Participants learn how to spot signs and symptoms of mental health challenges from typical adolescent development, and how to respond to a youth who may be experiencing a crisis. Just like certified medical first aid/CPR responders, these adults will learn how to give assistance in crisis until appropriate professional help is received.
JumpSpark began the search earlier this year for two local candidates to be certified as Youth Mental Health First Aid trainers. JF&CS’s Clinical Services, run by Dan Arnold, LCSW, emerged as a strong community partner to drive this initiative. In September 2019, Rebecca Brown and Jaime Stepansky, licensed clinical social workers with JF&CS Atlanta, attended a three-day comprehensive training with Jewish professionals from across the country who are working toward improving overall teen wellness for Jewish youth.
“We want to address specific concerns facing our community and normalize that Jewish youth experience mental health challenges and crises, too,” said Stepansky. Rebecca Brown said, “Youth Mental Health First Aid is like taking a CPR/First Aid class. We don’t hesitate to be certified in CPR/First Aid, why should this be any different?”
JumpSpark is organizing dates in 2019-20 to train additional professionals, schools, and communities that work with teens, and even parents. “It’s important for adults to recognize the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, and have solid strategies for how to help, said Kelly Cohen, Director of JumpSpark.” To learn more about Youth Mental Health First Aid, and how you can bring this training to your community, contact Kelly Cohen, JumpSpark Director.