The Loudoun County government is partnering with Loudoun County Public Schools in a national pilot program designed to promote mental health wellness in teens.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday announced Freedom High School in South Riding was one of two Virginia schools—and only eight in the U.S.—selected by the National Council on Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation to pilot Teen Mental Health First Aid this spring.
The program provides in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions, and help them identify and respond to friends who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem. Similar to CPR, students learn a five-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide.
Teen MHFA is an evidence-based training program from Australia. The National Council adapted the training with support from Born This Way Foundation and Well Being Trust. The pilot program is being evaluated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to assess its effectiveness. The training will be made available to the public following analysis of the pilot study. The program is the first of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S.
The teen Mental Health First Aid training is a companion course to Mental Health First Aid classes currently offered by the mental health department. The department offers two versions of the program, one for adults who interact with young people and one for adults in general.
Classes are offered to the public at no cost throughout the year. Each eight-hour course is taught over a two-day period.
More information, including course descriptions and information on how to register, is online at loudoun.gov/mhfirstaid.