Members of Capac’s 988 group, along with their parents, take part in team building exercises during one of their teen Mental Health First Aid training sessions. The program is free to other student groups in the foundation’s service area.
Four County Community Foundation is celebrating the news that a second cohort of students has completed teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training.
A total of 12 members of Capac High School’s 988 group are now certified in the program that helps teens learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges among themselves, their friends and peers. Members of the foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee were the first group to become tMHFA certified and funding is available for other youth groups to do the same.
Taking part in the training was one of the first accomplishments for members of the newly formed mental health support club, named in honor of the 988 crisis lifeline, said Capac High School teacher and group advisor, Michele Waddy.
In the months following the death of one of her students, Eli Fleetwood, Waddy had the idea to create a group for her students where they could work through their grief, develop healthy relationships and support each other in difficult times. Capac’s 988 group is now affiliated with Eli’s Project, a youth mental health charity created by Eli’s family. Students meet twice a week during their lunch hour where they share conversation and ideas on how to help others. Earlier this month, the group assisted with a food giveaway at a local church.
“I feel like there needs to be a safe person for everyone. Even if I’m not your safe person, hopefully I’ve taught you enough so you know to go to them if you’re having a crisis. Even if we save one student from suicide, it’s all worth it,” Waddy said.
She believes that the training has helped her students feel more empathy for others and consider what they can do to be an encouragement to their peers.
“It’s a really great training. It gives them a chance to say I know how to identify symptoms within myself and my friends and what to do to help myself and my friends. It’s right at their teenage level,” she said.
Thanks to a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, the cost per group of 15 participants, will be covered for four student groups to take part in tMHFA which includes parent meetings, student orientations, tMHFA training, a tMHFA workbook per student. In 2022, 4CCF provided funds for Skyline Camp and Retreat Center staff Matt Henry and Erin Stokes to become certified trainers in the program.
For more information about teen Mental Health First Aid, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org. To inquire about a student group receiving teen Mental Health First Aid training, contact Kathy Dickens at firstname.lastname@example.org or (810) 798-0909.