Does Your Teen Need Emotional First Aid?

Everyone knows about CPR and the importance of learning and knowing first aid. We all want to know how to help when there is a crisis. 

First Aid training teaches us how to assess a situation where someone may be hurt, ill, or in danger and to know the exact steps to take to provide or get the help that is needed ASAP. 

It is literally lifesaving training.

Did you know that this type of training also exists for people who are experiencing crisis or concerns regarding their mental health?

Imagine knowing exactly what to look out for, and exactly what to do, for a tween or teen in your life who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental or emotional wellbeing. 

Mental Health First Aid provides exactly this. Mental Health First Aid is developed and endorsed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Our Mental Health First Aid instructors have seen the positive impacts of this training has not just on the youth who receive the support, but on the individuals providing the support. 

Mental Health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, the impacts of social isolation, disordered eating and body dysmorphia to name just a few are increasing at a concerning pace for our youth. Knowing what to do isn’t always obvious or easy. 

MHFA helps those who work with youth feel much more confident, competent and prepared. 

And the best part? You don’t have to be a therapist to support youth through a crisis. You don’t have to be a therapist to know what to do and where to go. 

While professional support is ALWAYS a resource that you want to have on hand to refer your tween or teen to, the reality is that before you can get your tween or teen to speak to someone, YOU will be the first point of contact for them. 

Whether you are a teacher, coach, parent, or other important advocate in a tween or teen’s life, you will be the first line of defence in ensuring that tween or teen doesn’t slip through the cracks. 

You are most likely going to be the first person to recognize when a tween or teen is struggling, and chances are you have questions about the right steps to take. 

MHFA training is the most comprehensive guide available to you as this first line of defence. 

Here are 2 critical strategies to employ right now if you know or suspect a tween or teen in your life may be struggling: 

1. Notice if something is different

Has your student suddenly stopped eating with his or her friends? Are they quieter than usual, or have they started acting up? Is your star athlete suddenly missing passes or seeming zoned out? Are they being extra harsh on themselves or have they become completely disinterested and aloof? Is your son suddenly behaving in ways that seem out of character, or is he hanging around new friends that just don’t seem like his typical crew?

The first signs and symptoms of mental health concerns aren’t severe depression or panic attacks. They are more subtle changes in behaviour, social life, or demeanour. Don’t let it slide. This is an important time to reach out and offer support.

2. Know who to get your tween or teen to speak to

Perhaps you haven’t taken MHFA, or you feel completely at a loss about how to help. But you know the school’s librarian has taken the training and that your daughter speaks with them after school everyday, or you know your son’s soccer coach has and they have a great rapport. 

While you will let your tween or teen know that you are always there to talk whenever they are ready, you can encourage them to reach out to someone they trust, and casually remind them of these important people by saying “like your soccer coach or school librarian”. 

Providing mental health support is all of our responsibility. 

From being the parent who lets your child know you care, to the teacher who notices the first signs or symptoms in the classroom, to the coach who has that great relationship with your tween or teen and can get them to open up, to the trained Mental Health First Aider who provides critical resources, back to you who can then make a referral to the guidance counsellor or therapist. We all play a key role in ensuring our youth are safe, and well supported. 

Want to know more about Mental Health First Aid and upcoming trainings? Click here