Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,545,650)
Michigan State University Extension Bringing Mental Health First Aid to Michigan Youth
In 2017-18, Michigan became the number one state ranked for incidence and threats of in-school violence, according to the Educator’s School Safety Network. Michigan State University Extension’s Children and Youth Institute (MSUE-CYI) aims to help schools build a cadre of trained school professionals and teens who can work to create safe school environments; recognize signs of mental health crisis in young people; and take steps that can help prevent incidents of violence to themselves or others by students in crisis.
The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program seeks to increase mental health knowledge of those close to middle and high school students. MSUE-CYI seeks to build a state-wide community based MHFA infrastructure to help young people combat anger, stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The goal is to train 1200 teens and 120 caring adults to recognize the signs of crisis, teach skills to support difficult conversations, suggest self-help strategies, and understand when to seek professional help.
Mental Health First Aid was created in 2001 in Australia by Betty Kitchener, a health education nurse, and Anthony Jorm, a mental health literacy professor. The National Council for Behavioral Health adapted the curricula for use in the United States creating Mental Health First Aid USA. MSUE adopted the curricula in 2018, making it required learning for educational staff working with adults and youth throughout Michigan to ensure staff could recognize and help take appropriate action when faced with mental health crisis among program participants. In 2020, four MSUE staff became certified instructors in the tMHFA (teen) program.
School personnel will also have access to the MSUE developed Be SAFE (Building Safe Affirming and Fair Environments) curricula and training designed to help young people and adults work in partnership to create environments that are physically and emotionally safe. Training is designed to promote social and emotional learning and development, address and prevent bullying and foster positive relationships with peers and adults.
MSUE seeks to work with 10th and 11th graders and supporting school professionals in Michigan to build infrastructures of adult and teen mental health first aiders. Eight local school districts have been identified to represent geographic, racial, economic and ethnic diversity. MSUE will deploy nationally certified instructors to serve identified schools.