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SCSD High School Students Receive Mental Health First Aid Training

This is a photo of two female students standing in front of a bulletin board, each holding a mental health training booklet and smiling at the camera.Sad
Students easily listed the words that they believe contribute to a negative sigma and attitude toward mental health challenges.
Thanks to a series of trainings provided to students at all SCSD high schools, they also learned that 1 in 5 teens will experience a mental health challenge before the age of 18.
Helio Health staff visited all SCSD high schools this spring, where they led six-part trainings in school health classes, discussing how mental health challenges can impact physical maturity, social development, the development of self and identity, and more. They detailed with students what behaviors could be cause for concern, and what resources are available to students and their peers who may need help.
“We want to normalize the behavior of asking for help,” PSLA at Fowler Social Worker Patrick Otts shared. “It’s important for our students to know what the supports are in our building, the behaviors to look out for in themselves and their friends, and when they might need to seek help.”
In the trainings, students learned from a Helio Health facilitator about mental health challenges, stigma, and more. They worked together through a workbook with activities and watched videos featuring common scenarios teenagers may encounter.
Students learned what to look out for in their peers: friends who show less interest in things they once enjoyed, lasting changes in mood or attitude, pulling away from friends, and more.
“This program gave a lot of insight into what we as humans deal with on a daily basis,” PSLA at Fowler freshman Jamaya Williams shared. “I enjoyed learning about mental health like this. I learned that it’s a strength to tell someone you need help. We don’t get to talk about mental health so much, but I wish there were more opportunities like this, because it’s so important. It’s nice to know that everyone deals with difficult emotions. Being in a class where people are facing similar issues, and having an informed adult to tell us these things – it makes the things we are feeling seem like normal things. We are learning that we all go through these things, and these are normal feelings and processes.”
Jamaya shared that she used to have a friend who was dealing with loss – and she wasn’t sure how to help. Thanks to this training, she feels better prepared to help her friends in the future.
“Now, I feel like I could help in a new way because I have more knowledge,” she said. “I’d know that just being there for a friend is one way of helping… being with them and talking with them. I’d know that talking to an adult, a counselor, a doctor, or a therapist could help, too – someone you can trust. I think this would be helpful for all students to go through, because all we talk about a lot of the time is school, work… but we also need to talk about our feelings and what we’re going through. Life can be hard, but good things come with it, and it’s all going to be okay.”
School staff have also had opportunities to receive the same mental health training; staff who completed the training received a sticker to hang on their classroom door indicating to students that they are Mental Health First Aid Certified. The stickers are intended to help students identify staff who they could talk to should they feel they need assistance.
Thank you to Helio Health for bringing these trainings to our schools. We’re so proud of the students who completed the trainings and are eager to see the ways they are able to help support their classmates as a result!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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