Following a $20,000 grant from the Department of Family and Community Services, Coast Community Connections’ Evolution Youth Service has successfully provided Teen Mental Health First Aid (TMHFA) training to 65 young leaders across the Central Coast.
The three and a half-hour TMHFA course, delivered in two sessions, was developed in response to research indicating that young people prefer to share their mental health issues with peers.
Seven local schools participated in the program that was delivered to students in years 10 to 12, with the course teaching participants how to provide mental health first aid to their friends.
Key course topics included awareness of disorders associated with anxiety, eating, depression, drugs and alcohol, bullying or abuse, as well as education relating to the relationship between feelings and behaviours for someone with suicidal thoughts or those considering self-harm.
Emma Gilby, General Manager of Coast Community Connections Family and Community Services, said this initiative was important for young people on the Central Coast, with cases of anxiety and depression rising amongst teens and young adults each year.
“With an increasing number of teens experiencing mental health issues, it is important that we give them the tools to help each other,” said Mrs Gilby.
“We know teens share things with their friends that they wouldn’t feel comfortable telling their parents or relatives. This is what makes the Teen Mental Health First Aid course unique, in that it teaches young students to identify symptoms of poor mental health and provides them with the tools to support those who are experiencing difficulty,” continued Mrs Gilby.
Following the completion of this training, students from a number of the schools formed peer mental health sub-action groups and have commenced delivering initiatives and activities across the Coast.
“The students involved in our sub-action groups showed amazing leadership throughout the project and were very mature about presenting their ideas to the wider community,” she added.
“There were a number of very creative concepts that were raised about how peer education should be delivered and how promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing to young people of the Central Coast should be communicated.
“On behalf of Evolution Youth Service, I would like to thank all the young leaders that took part in this training and for sharing, often personal thoughts and ideas, about teen mental health issues and their experiences.
“By training and working with the leaders of tomorrow, we can ensure that future generations can continue to destigmatise mental health issues and create a community that is aware of the holistic health of our young people, their friends and peers,” concluded Mrs Gilby.
For 24/7 crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au/gethelp.