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NewBridge Services trained more than 120 people in Youth Mental Health First Aid in 2017, and will be offering sessions again in 2018.
The eight-hour sessions teach family members, caregivers, educators, youth leaders and others the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and addiction in children ages 12 to 18, and more importantly, how to reach out to them.
“You learn ways to let them know you recognize something is going on, and that you’re willing to help,” NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education Mary Vineis said.
The training program received glowing reviews in participant surveys. Bloomingdale Police Chief Joseph Borell, who took the training with his department’s lieutenant and detective, called the session “invaluable” and said he hopes to have more officers go through it in the coming year.
“I felt it was not only informative, but simplified. We got the best information in an easy to understand manner,” said the chief, who also has taken NewBridge’s Mental Health First Aid training for helping adults in crisis.
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.
A Morris County grant allowed NewBridge to provide six community sessions free of charge, and NewBridge hopes to receive funding again in 2018. A community health grant from Chilton Medical Center/ Atlantic Health System paid for another six sessions.
Community leaders and residents interested in taking the training can contact Vineis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-686-2228. NewBridge also offers Mental Health First Aid training designed specifically for public safety professionals and educators in higher education.
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving 10,000 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.