Mental and behavioral health for children, youth, and adults has been a subject of great concern for many years in Grundy County. In the most recently completed Community Health Needs Assessment and Plan (IPLAN) conducted by the Grundy County Health Department, mental illness and substance abuse was the top health priority named in the assessment. In Spring of 2015, Grundy County Health Department was notified of an opportunity for a grant being offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). An application was completed, with the hope of being able to bring Youth Mental Health First Aid to Grundy County and assist youth, ages 12-18, with gaining greater access to mental health and addictions resources. Youth Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognized “adult public education program designed to improve participants’ knowledge and modify their attitudes and perceptions about mental health and related issues, including how to respond to individuals who are experiencing one or more acute mental health crises (i.e., suicidal thoughts and/or behavior, acute stress reaction, panic attacks, and/or acute psychotic behavior) or are in the early stages of one or more chronic mental health problems (i.e., depressive, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders, which may occur with substance abuse).”
In September 2015, Grundy County Health Department received notice that our proposal, Project Help4U, was selected as one of 70 nationwide recipients of the Now is the Time-Project AWARE-Community Funds Grant (NITT-AWARE-C) from SAMHSA, and thus began our journey to bring people together to recognize that mental health and addictions are real and treatable. We know that people typically want to come together when there’s a community problem, but mental health issues can leave people feeling scared and helpless in terms of how to help. If someone is in an accident or a natural disaster, or if a friend or family member is injured or diagnosed with an illness, we respond with support—offers to run errands and take care of daily tasks, to listen or talk; we bring casseroles and desserts, and all kinds of other offers of assistance—because we want to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. With this program, we hope to develop that same kind of response to people struggling with mental health concerns and addictions, so we can help them get back on their feet, too.
Youth Mental Health First Aid is typically taught as a one-day class that helps adults learn to recognize and assist youth with signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis or addiction issue. Instructors provided by Grundy County Health Department are aiming to engage teachers, administrators, other school personnel, extracurricular mentors, and various community leaders and members who interact with youth ages 12-18. Given the growth of the school-age population in Grundy County, our project has the potential to impact the lives of up to 8,000 adolescents.
To find out more about taking a Youth Mental Health First Aid class and joining us in our mission to increase the mental health literacy among youth-serving adults, call 815-941-3138.