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Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts: Mental Health and Today’s Youth

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund understands the importance of mental health awareness. One of our past quarterly forums focused on mental health and wrap around services available to students in Duval County. 

Guest Blogger, Selena Webster-Bass, Cultural & Linguistic Competency Educator of Jacksonville System of Care Initiative shares an important training to equip community members to help young adults with mental health challenges.


 

There is the old adage that children should be seen and not heard, quite the contrary, with the following statistics.  According to the Duval County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2013), 1 in 4 middle school students have seriously thought about killing themselves. Twelve percent of high school students reported having seriously attempted suicide. It’s time for our community to embrace the youth voice, practice reflective listening and engage with our youth to understand their needs and concerns.

These startling statistics along with concern from families, youth and professionals with the Jacksonville System Care Initiative – Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts Committee led to the implementation of a series of Youth Mental Health First Aid Training with faith-based partners in 2014. Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts is focused on increasing mental health awareness and reducing stigma in the faith-based community through health education and outreach. Youth Mental Health First Aid training is an 8-hour certification course to equip people (parents, teachers, youth advocates, pastors, youth ministers, professionals etc.) with skills to help youth ages 13 – 18 experiencing mental health challenges. Using the 5-step program ALGEE, participants gain knowledge, skills and resources to help youth with mental health crises.  Rev. Anthony L. Webster, Pastor of Peace Missionary Baptist Church hosted a Youth Mental Health First Aid training at Peace Missionary Baptist Church February 6, 2016. He stated, “The training was interactive and provided specific tools to engage youth with mental health challenges. I would recommend this training for all pastors, youth leaders, parents and congregants. We must care, protect and renew the precious fragile minds of our youth.” 

The Jacksonville System of Care Initiative – Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts Program has partnered with Mental Health America (MHA)-Northeast Florida Chapter- Project Duval AWARE Grant to continue Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings with the faith-based community and other sectors of the community. Project Duval AWARE is funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  “MHA is part of a community that genuinely cares for its youth. Implementing YMHFA in our community will help all caring adults develop the knowledge and skills that they need to recognize signs, symptoms and support youth who may be developing a mental health challenge.”Jill Hill, CRPS-F; Project AWARE Program Coordinator

The next faith-based training is scheduled Saturday, April 2, 2016, 9 am - 5 pm at Abundant Peace Ministries, Pastor Annie Montgomery. The training is FREE. On-line registration is available at https://jaxkids.gosignmeup.com. Dr. Diane Clark, Pastor of Kingdom Life Ministries and Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts Committee Chair states, “In order for the church community to be Christ-centered, cutting edge and contemporary, both seasoned and young pastors  must be prepared to address the mental health needs of their congregants. Youth Mental Health First Aid training equips faith leaders to address the complex and diverse needs of youth and families that we are called to serve.”

Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts began in May 2012 training over 400 individuals about the integration of spirituality and mental health and suicide prevention training in children, youth and families. Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts is supported through a System of Care Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Last year Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts launched a series of Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings with various faith-based partners; Kingdom Life Ministries, Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, River City Church and Peace Missionary Baptist Church. Selena Webster-Bass, certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer and Healthy Minds, Healthy Hearts leader states, “the role of the faith-based community is to offer support, comfort and a place of refuge for children, youth and families in crisis. It is critical that mental illness is viewed as a brain disease and not as personal weakness. Families deserve the same encouragement that a family facing cancer or sickle cell disease receives. The faith community must integrate the spiritual -- prayer, meditation along with supportive counseling, therapy and medications when needed.” To host a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training with your faith organization or partner with other faith organizations, contact Selena Webster-Bass, MPH, Cultural and Linguistic Competency Educator at 904.630.4251 or selenawb@coj.net with Jacksonville System of Care Initiative for more information.

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Selena Webster-Bass, Cultural & Linguistic Competency Educator of Jacksonville System of Care Initiative