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Vicksburg HS Gets "Mental Health First Aid"

Ben Gretchko

Vicksburg High School is one of 35 schools around the country to get funding for a teen mental health pilot program. It's called "Teen Mental Health First Aid USA." Funding for it comes from National Council for Behavioral Health with help from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

The purpose of the program is to teach high school students about mental illness and how to identify it in a friend.

Vicksburg High School Principal Adam Brush says he chose sophomores for the training. But he hopes the program sends the right message to everyone.

“Our 10th graders will be trained in teen mental health first aid, which means they’ll be in the school for the next three years, and they’ll be able to identify students that might be in trauma (and) crisis.

Credit Ben Gretchko / WMUK

Vicksburg School Superintendent Keevin O’Neil says he's grateful for the grant because it will help school staff talk with students more about mental health conditions.

Timothy Henson, the clinical director of children’s services at the Kalamazoo Healing Center, says teens can face some common mental health issues.

“The most common ones would be depression and anxiety but there are other that they might experience as well.”

Henson says they include eating disorders and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Henson says he believes the program is a positive way to train students so they know if there's something going on with their friends.

“The first people who usually know something is up is peers, our friends in high school probably know something is going on well before adults, parents, (and) teaches catch on.”

While the project is now a pilot program this school year, it's expected to roll out nationwide to all schools next year.

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