Knowing how to respond when a peer is experiencing a mental health crisis was recently the focus of a training session for a group of Trumbull High students.

Earlier this month, select junior and senior students and staff from Trumbull public schools participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (YMHFA). YMHFA is an eight-hour public education program designed to improve participants’ knowledge and modify their attitudes and perceptions about mental health and related issues. That training includes how to respond to individuals who are experiencing one or more acute mental health crises, like suicidal thoughts and/or behavior, acute stress reaction, panic attacks, or acute psychotic behavior, or are in the early stages of one or more chronic mental health problems, like depressive, anxiety and psychotic disorders that may occur with substance abuse.

“After taking the course, I feel more prepared for responding to someone who might be in the middle of a crisis,” junior Amanda Daigle said.

The course was delivered by a trained, certified instructor. Students were offered the opportunity to attend the training through heir psychology class or through a posting on Trumbull High School’s website. Space was limited and interest was high from students, many of whom expressed an interest in majoring in psychology or working in the mental health field.
“Our hope was to provide students a professional training experience that provided knowledge and application beyond the classroom as well as earning certification as a mental health first aid responder,” said Bill Mecca, the Trumbull High School intervention specialist.

The cost of the training was covered by a grant through the Connecticut Association of Schools, arranged by Mecca and Dennis McLaughlin. Typically, mental health first aid courses are offered in the community sponsored by the local municipality or regional mental health agency. For more information on the course, go to mentalhealthfirstaid.org.