This spring sophomores at CHS participated in the teen Mental Health First Aid program, a course that trains high school students how to identify and respond to developing mental health or substance abuse problems among their friends.
CHS is one of eight high schools in the nation (two from Virginia) chosen to pilot this program developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Supported by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the course specifically teaches students an action plan: Look, Ask, Listen, Help.
“We think it is really important to put the tools in the students’ hands so they know how to help a friend who is showing signs of mental illness or substance abuse,” said CHS School Counselor Sarah Elaine Hart.
Hart taught the three-week course along with her colleague Dominique Williams and Region Ten Prevention Director Emily Warren.
“Overall, we have found that most kids want to know what to do when a friend is struggling, even when it feels uncomfortable and hard,” said Hart. “They want to be equipped with the tools to help.”
The first national program of its kind, the course will be offered nationwide next year to students in grades 10th-12th. Students who complete the course earn Mental Health First Aid certifications.