(Air1 Closer Look) – Suicide is the second leading cause of death among boys and girls, as millions silently suffer anxiety or depression. “Sometimes we want to say, suck it up, get over it,” says Lori Butterworth of AIM Youth Mental Health. She urges adults to err instead on the side of paying attention. A young person enduing a lack of sleep, refusing to eat, caught up in pervasive fear, all could be symptoms of a serious mental health crisis. "If it’s going on for a while, I really encourage parents to seek treatment,” which she sees as more than therapy alone.
“We decided to ask the youth what we should do,” Butterworth continues. AIM trained teenagers to do peer-to-peer mental health surveys. The answers were alarming. Kids reported that essential relationships with adults outside the home – a trusted coach, neighbor, youth pastor, teacher – declined dangerously since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A trusted adult is what a youth needs more than anything,” explains Butterworth, which is why AIM strongly recommends that all adults invest in learning Youth Mental Health First Aid.
The 7-hour training course is offered via the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and those that complete it receive a certification. There is a small fee for the course but group rates and scholarships are available. Case scenarios answer crucial questions: how do you listen non-judgmentally? How do you give information instead of unwanted advice?
How do you approach a teen without getting a door slammed in your face?
Butterworth compares Youth Mental Health First Aid to CPR. The more people certified in CPR the greater the chance a person will survive a heart attack.
“What if we worked really hard to raise the probability that when a child or teen has a mental health crisis that there is someone there to help them and save their life? – that’s why we want to train as many adults in youth mental health as we can.”
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