Barb Seaman closely interacts with teenagers on a daily basis in her role as Washougal High School’s library media instructor. As such, she sees them when they’re at their best and at their worst. Lately, she’s seen more of the latter.
“The mental health challenges our youth face are prevalent everywhere,” Seaman said. “There’s anxiety, depression, stress and uncertainty. They’re learning about socializing and getting along (with each other), and that can be hard. Older students need to make decisions about what direction to go after they graduate. And the pandemic was hard on everyone. I just have this sense that kids need a lot of support from all of the adults in their lives.”
So when Seaman heard that Lifeline Connections, a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that provides care to those experiencing substance abuse or mental illness, was looking for locations to host its revived youth mental health first aid program, she knew that it had to come to Washougal if possible.
Lifeline Connections is partnering with the Washougal School District and the East County Citizens Alliance nonprofit organization to provide free youth mental health training to adults who regularly interact with teenagers.
“I think this is important because in the school setting, a student can’t learn when they’re having a mental health problem,” Seaman said. “I see it as our job to be aware of that and find ways to support them so they can get back to learning and growing as soon as possible. That’s why this mental health first aid training appeals to me.”
The sessions will take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, April 18, April 25 and May 2, at the Washougal High School Library.
“It’s helpful for us to be informed about common mental health concerns among the young members of our community,” said Seaman, an East County Citizens Alliance volunteer. “It’s helpful for those of us who work with kids to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health problems.”
Youth mental health first aid is an evidence-based program that teaches adults how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance-use challenges among children ages 12 to 18, according to Lifeline Connections.
The training will help attendees recognize common signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance abuse; understand how to interact with a young person in crisis; know how to connect a young person with help; and better understand trauma, substance abuse, self-care, and the impact of social media and bullying.
Lifeline Connections received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that will provide funding for the program for the next five years.
To register for the sessions, visit tinyurl.com/2s4x9562.