Brandywine Health Foundation led the public-private partnership to launch Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) four years ago. Today there are over 1,100 certified Youth Mental Health “First Aiders” in and around Coatesville. These individuals interact and engage with our youth every day. By the end of 2017, we will have 2,000 trained mental health “First Aiders” in our community.
Below, Linda Hershey, YMHFA Program Coordinator shares some stories of impact.
“The district experienced two suicides early this past winter, and there was a lot of awareness locally about mental health issues. By the end of October, we had trained 1,179 Coatesville area school district staff and Coatesville community members in YMHFA – individuals who interact and engage with our youth every day.
As an example of YMHFA at work, Dr. Bridget Miles and Rich Miller, both Coatesville Area School District employees, went through YMHFA training in August, 2016. Last fall a student whom they both knew, walked towards them and looked troubled. Dr. Miles asked her how she was doing. This young girl answered, “Not well at all.” Dr. Miles and Rich Miller talked with her a while and then they asked her the question that they thought they would never have to ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Her answer was “Yes”. They were able to direct the family to the proper resources, so she could get help. That night, Dr. Miles and Rich Miller saved a life.
Mary Beth Burns, a secretary with the CASD, deals with alternative education students every day. Ms. Burns went through the training when we first started the program back in 2014, and was just re-certified this summer. She is grateful to have the skills to deal with the teens she interacts with every day. “This training allows you to become more aware of the type of students we are dealing with on a daily basis. It has also taught me to be more sensitive before we approach the kids.”