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Pequot Lakes schools offer Teen Mental Health First Aid classes

Teen Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid are offered through the National Council of Mental Wellbeing and endorsed by the Minnesota Department of Health.

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Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

PEQUOT LAKES โ€” In honor of May as Mental Health month, Pequot Lakes Schools REEL North Alliance club sponsored Teen Mental Health First Aid classes for students in grades 10-12, and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes for adults โ€” faculty, staff, and parentsโ€” working with teens.

Twenty-four students and 14 faculty, staff and parents participate in the classes.

Teen Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid are evidenced-based curriculum offered through the National Council of Mental Wellbeing and endorsed by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Teen Mental Health First Aid teaches teens in grades 10-12, or ages 15-18, how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges in friends and peers. Knowing that 78% of students are more likely to talk to a friend or peer about mental health issues, the goal is to give students the tools to help identify mental health issues in the early stages. Students are taught common signs and symptoms of mental health crisis, particularly suicide; the impact of school violence and bullying on mental health; how to open the conversation about mental health and substance use with friends; and how to seek help of a responsible and trusted adult.

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course corresponds with the Teen Mental Health First Aid course. The course targets adults who work with teens, teaching them how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among adolescents ages 12-18. Participants worked on skills to reach out and provide initial support to young people who are struggling. The course offered recognition of common signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression, substance use challenges and how to interact with a youth in crisis. Through the course, participants have a better understanding of trauma, substance use, self care, and the impact of social media and bullying. They also reviewed how to connect a young person with the necessary resources that they need to get help.

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โ€œThe feedback from these classes was overwhelmingly positive and they would recommend this course to others,โ€ Janet Hennies, REEL North Alliance adult adviser, said in a news release.

REEL North Alliance is a student-led school organization dedicated to focusing on and improving mental health for students in the school and community. They offer a safe and supportive environment for kids to talk and learn more about mental health. All students are welcome to join this club. Monthly meetings are during the lunch period. REEL North Alliance is planning on offering the Teen Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid course every fall and spring. Check with the schools for when the next classes will be offered.

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