Seven individuals from the Neenah Joint School District and local agencies are attending a week-long training in Madison to become certified trainers in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
The event is part of the two-year Project AWARE grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The course teaches participants how to help youth who are developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps then identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
NJSD counseling staff members Chris Christensen, Beth Altekruse and Jamie Lasee are participating in the training, along with middle school teacher Jason Fridley, downtown campus teacher Rose Unser, high school police liaison officer Pat Pedersen and Winnebago County Youth Mental Health Supervisor Tom Matczynski.
Over the next two years, the seven individuals will train over 250 people throughout the Neenah Joint School District and local community who work with youth. Community partners for the project are the Winnebago County Department of Human Services and the Neenah Police Department.
By implementing Youth Mental Health First Aid, Neenah expects to see an increase in the mental health literacy of adults who interact with school-aged youth and increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth.
The overall goal of Project AWARE is to expand the community’s capacity to increase awareness of mental health issues, and connect children and youth with behavioral health issues to needed services. The program’s objectives include increasing awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth; engaging school-aged youth and their families to increase awareness of and promote positive mental health; increasing the mental health literacy of school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth; and increasing the capacity of communities to respond to the behavioral health issues of school-aged youth.