UNH Extension is partnering with the New Hampshire Department of Education to coordinate the delivery of the Youth Mental Health First Aid® program throughout New Hampshire. This eight-hour training is designed to teach participants how to help children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who are experiencing mental health or addictions challenges or who are in crisis.
Through this training schools, community organizations and other caring adults will learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Extension will also provide instructor trainings, so that more individuals can offer this course in their local communities.
There have been increases in youth mental health challenges in the past few years, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders, social isolation and other contributing factors have further increased mental health challenges.
In a fall 2020 COVID Experiences Survey, parents with children ages 5-12 reported their children showed elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychological stress during the pandemic, with 22% reporting overall worsened mental or emotional health.
The CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program found that from mid-March to October of 2020, the average proportion of children’s mental health-related Emergency Department visits was 44% greater than it was in 2019.
Training teachers, school staff, coaches, camp counselors, youth group leaders, parents and adults who work with youth about mental health can help ensure that youth receive the care they need.
Extension will also continue to offer other suicide prevention and mental health training, technical assistance and programming throughout the state.