Training Class Now Available for Teachers, Safety Personnel, Community Groups: How to Identify and Respond to Symptoms of Mental Illness in Youth

Top Quote Youth Mental Health First Aid training (YMHFA), designed to help identify risk factors and symptoms of mental illness in youth 12-18, is now available from Care Plus NJ, Inc., the only certified YMHFA trainers in the state of New Jersey. End Quote
  • Bergen-Passaic, NJ (1888PressRelease) May 01, 2013 - Care Plus NJ, Inc. (CarePlus) is proud to be the first in the state of New Jersey to make available Youth Mental Health First Aid training courses for police, firefighters, and other first responders; medical professionals; teachers and educational institution staff; government staff and supervisors, and community groups. Currently CarePlus has the only two trainers in the state that are certified in this educational program designed to help identify risk factors and symptoms in youth aged 12-18.

    Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is a public education program that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents. The course helps participants build understanding of the importance of early intervention, and most importantly, teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The course employs the use of role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

    CarePlus, the integrated mental health care agency headquartered in Paramus, has four certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainers on staff who have provided the training course to schools, public safety, government, and community groups throughout New Jersey. Two of the same four individuals are now the only certified YMHFA trainers in the state to be dual-certified to provide the new course focused on the unique needs of adolescents.

    Sue Heguy, LCSW - a CarePlus Clinical Supervisor
and the Traumatic Loss Coalition (TLC) Coordinator of Bergen County - and Jamisin Saracino, MA - the Training and Awareness Coordinator for the GLS Suicide Prevention Program, and Care Plus Community and Educational Liaison - completed all required training and certification exams earlier this month.

    "We're proud to be the first in the state to offer this important program," Heguy stated. "Research has shown that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, so it's vital to ensure that those who work with children understand the symptoms, know how to respond, and the appropriate action steps to getting the child help. Early invention and treatment pave the way for a more positive life path, eliminating or diminishing symptoms that are likely to make educational and social development more difficult as time goes on."

    Saracino shares the same urgency and noted that the training is meant to provide education to laypeople. She stated, "It is our goal not to train people to diagnose or treat, but rather to learn to listen non-judgmentally, provide reassurance, assess the risk of harm or suicide, and encourage next steps to getting the appropriate professional help."

    Both Heguy and Saracino are active in the field and witness the difference in outcomes between those adolescents who have obtained help early on and those have not. Sadly, they both note that many who exhibit symptoms that go unnoticed or are left untreated, sometimes progress to the harm of others or themselves.

    The announcement comes on the heels of widespread media focus on mental health care, particularly in adolescents and young adults, as well as Mental Health Awareness month, a nationwide recognition event starting on May 1st.

    The program can be adapted based on the audience and their need. CarePlus also offers a variant for an adolescent audience to (16 and older) to encourage peer-to-peer interaction as they may be the first to recognize symptomatic behavior within their own social circles.

    Additional information on the CarePlus Mental Health First Program may be obtained by calling (201) 797-2660 ext 129.

    Care Plus NJ, Inc. ( is a northern New Jersey provider of recovery-focused mental health, substance abuse and family services that addresses the unique needs of individuals with a holistic approach to recovery and overall wellness. Operating out of 23 sites - including three outpatient centers located in Paramus, Fair Lawn, and Montclair, ten residential facilities, offices at three local hospitals, and seven community offices - their services are convenient to clients located throughout Northern New Jersey. They also provide educational programs on mental health-related topics to area schools and community groups, including certified Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses.

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