EvergreenHealth in Kirkland recently partnered with King County to host a Youth Mental Health First Aid training session as part of a levy-funded community program initiative.
The initiative uses levied funds to provide community-based programs that educate and help identify resources for youth mental health. Youth Mental Health First Aid is a program that provides training meant for anyone 18 and older and is specifically recommended for anyone who works with minors on a regular basis.
The eight-hour courses are free and only require registration at EvergreenHealth.com.
While an exact date has not been determined, EvergreenHealth is scheduled to host another course in the first quarter of 2018, according to Laurene Burton, who is the health system’s administrative director of governance and community service.
“This is not just a hospital, school or faith community problem,” she said. “This is something that hits everybody. Every demographic, every socioeconomic status, it reaches us all. I really hope each and every person could be trained in youth mental health first aid and I think we would see a dramatic change.”
Mental Health First Aid is a national program that offers courses through organizations such as EvergreenHealth. The curriculum follows a five-step action plan that outlines how to address an individual who may be in crisis.
Burton said the course is the mental health equivalent to a CPR class.
“It’s a very hands on process,” she said. “You receive the background and then actually practice (and) learn how to reach out to those individuals.”
EvergreenHealth has hosted two courses since it began in September and individuals from throughout the Puget Sound region came to complete the training course in Kirkland.
“A lot of this really is around the stigma of mental health,” Burton said. “We’re trying to break that down. It’s important that we move on beyond that attachment and really reach out to those individuals who need our support.”
Each course has 30 open spots and while attendance was adequate, she said the sessions were not full.
Additionally, EvergreenHealth recently brought in national trainers to educate more program trainers, who are eager to lead the 2018 courses, Burton said.
EvergreenHealth, which is considered a public hospital district, uses its levied funds to run the Youth Mental Health First Aid courses and other community-focused programs.
The Community Healthcare Access Team assists low-income community residents through levy funds. Additionally, the funds help provide health services for seniors through the Northshore Senior Clinic, Evergreen Geriatric Care and Kirkland Senior Council.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid program is classified under community health needs, alongside the EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigator and Healthline, Grief and Bereavement Services, Hospital-School Partnerships and Inpatient Hospice Care.
“We need to help these kids,” Burton said. “Anxiety and depression are rampant. There are pressures placed upon our students today that I know I never had to deal with and I feel that if we don’t do something now, we truly are going to impact an entire generation.”