Health and Mind: Youth Mental Health Month

Published 3:02 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

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By Cara O’Neill

Clark County Health Department

In recent years, health professionals have discovered how intricately physical and mental health are woven together. Mental well-being can impact everything from sleep quality to heart health and overall longevity. This thread is often even more tightly intertwined for the youth in our community. Worldwide, one in seven children between the ages of 10 and 19 has a mental disorder. Even more alarming is that the World Health Organization names suicide the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.

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While it may seem like an overwhelming problem to approach, as individuals, we can have a positive role in the mental health of the youth we care about and in our community. You can do a few simple things to support the mental health of a child in your life. The first is to be involved. Having at least one caring and involved adult in a teen’s life can improve their health and behavioral outcomes. Does a child you care about love sports, music, art or being outdoors? Take part in an activity they enjoy, even if it may not be your favorite thing. Go to a baseball game, a paint party, a local museum, a movie, on a hike or to a concert with them. You may be surprised how positively kids respond to you once they see you are invested in their interests and lives.

Adults can also learn how to be proactive in understanding the warning signs of mental health distress, how to approach a youth experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis, and how to connect them to someone who can help. Some warning signs may include changes in mood, school performance, sleep and withdrawal from relationships and social activities. Knowing the usual behavior and personality of a young person is important in being able to identify what is abnormal for them.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is designed to teach adults how to help an adolescent experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. In a traditional first aid course, people are taught how to provide basic medical care and keep a person safe until a health professional can see them. Similarly, participants in YMHFA will be learning skills they need to keep youth safe who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and how to be a positive influence and empathetic listener to those experiencing a mental health challenge.

The Clark County Health Department will be offering the Youth Mental Health First Aid course on April 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break included. Participants are required to register ahead of time and certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid will be presented to those who complete the course. A $25 registration fee is suggested, but scholarships are available. Anyone interested in signing up for the class should contact the Clark County Health Department at 859-744-1488 extension 2012 or