The YMCA of San Diego County's Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) project will provide Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training to 1,200 youth-serving adults and parents/caregivers of youth ages 6-17, and teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training to 150 high school students in YMCA's camp leadership programs over 5 years, in order to better coordinate mental health services and help adults and youth identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental illness. San Diego County has over 714,000 youth under the age of 18, and is a majority-minority population comprised of 34.1% Hispanic, 45.0% White, 12.6% Asian, and 5.5% Black. Nationally, 50% of all mental illnesses begin by age 14, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24. In addition, 64% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment, and a recent study shows that 45% of youth ages 12-17 in California report having recently struggled with mental health issues. In San Diego County, there is elevated incidence of mental health distress among the nearly 25% of individuals who are foreign-born, and one in 13 children in San Diego County has an emotional disturbance that limits participation in daily activities.
YMHFA training is an evidence-based training for adults who work with youth, giving them the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to youth ages 6-17 who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. tMHFA is an evidence-based training for high school students in grades 10-12 that trains students to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders among their friends and peers. YMHFA is intended to help youth ages 6-17, and tMHFA training is intended to help friends and peers of high school students in grades 10-12. YMHFA and tMHFA will train YMCA staff and youth participating in YMCA's camp leadership programs to better identify signs and symptoms of mental illness in youth, and YMHFA will also train adults to make referrals to low- and no-fee therapy options that include a direct connection to YMCA's in-house licensed therapists.
Specific project goals and objectives include:
1. Increase access to MHAT in San Diego County by certifying two individuals in YMHFA and tMHFA.
2. Increase staff and community knowledge of the signs of mental illness and how to respond by training 1,200 adults in YMHFA and 150 youth in tMHFA over five years (150 in YMHFA in Year 1, 300 in YMHFA in Year 2, 250 in YMHFA and 50 in tMHFA in Years 3-5). 90% of those trained will show improved awareness of signs and symptoms of mental illness, and will be able to identify at least one referral pathway.
3. Connect individuals who exhibit signs and symptoms of mental illness to local mental health treatment options. 100% of participants will report the ability to identify at least one mental health or related resource, and 100% of identified individuals will be referred to mental health and related services. In addition, 90% of youth trained in tMHFA will know how to connect friends and peers experiencing a mental health crisis with a trusted adult.