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Adults Who Interact With Teens Offered Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

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With teenage suicide rates on an upswing, a barrage of tragedies in the news, and the heightened pressures of adolescence in a media-frenzied world, it’s more important than ever for caring adults to know how to intervene effectively.

Morris County again this year is funding Youth Mental Health First Aid training through NewBridge Services for adults who regularly interact with children ages 12 to 18. The eight-hour, evidence-based training teaches parents, caregivers, educators, youth leaders and others the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and addiction in adolescents, and more importantly, how to reach out to them.

“With so many communities going stigma-free, this is a great way to start to educate residents about mental health issues and ways to reach out to young people who need assistance,” NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education Mary Vineis said. 

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“This is vital training that can make a difference in the lives of our young people,” Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo said. “The freeholder board is proud to work with NewBridge Services to bring this important training to our community here in Morris County.” DeFillippo serves as the freeholder board’s liaison on human services issues.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training is particularly valuable for educators, school support staff, coaches, and religious leaders who work with teens, as well as parents, Vineis said.

Last year, NewBridge trained more than 120 people in Youth Mental Health First Aid and more than 60 in Mental Health First Aid for adults. NewBridge also offers training specifically for public safety professionals and educators in higher education.

Butler resident Chris Ziegler went through the training after his daughter’s 15-year-old friend and classmate died tragically last May. “I wanted to know more of what we could do as a community,” said Ziegler, who gave NewBridge’s Youth Mental Health First Aid training rave reviews. “You learn ways to let young people know you recognize something is going on, and that you’re willing to help.”

Mental illness affects an estimated one in five adolescents, yet less than half of preteens and teens with disorders get treatment, Vineis said. Recognizing the difference between normal growing-up behaviors and mental disorders is crucial. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24.

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches a five-step action plan. Anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders are among the topics covered.

The grant from Morris County will allow NewBridge to provide six community sessions free of charge to participants. The cost is normally $170 per participant. Community leaders and residents interested in taking the training can contact Vineis at mvineis@newbridge.org or 973-686-2228.

About NewBridge 

NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving nearly 8,000 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.

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