Virginia Governor Ralph Northam selected two Virginia high schools to take part in aTeen Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) pilot program. 
Freedom High School in Chantilly and Charlottesville High School in Charlottesville will be among eight schools in the country to pilot Teen MHFA this spring.

Teen MHFA is an in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions, and help them identify and respond to friends who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem. Similar to CPR, students learn a five-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide.

“As a physician and as governor, I am deeply concerned about the rising prevalence of mental health and substance use issues affecting teens in our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “It is my hope that is training program will encourage Virginia students to take action when they spot early signs of a problem, and empower them to support a friend who may be in distress or struggling with depression or addiction, so they can get the help and treatment they need.”

The program aims to teach teens to recognize when a friend is showing signs of a mental health issue or crisis, such as suicidal thoughts, and trains them on how to respond and get help. This course was developed specifically for high school students across the nation and stresses the importance of involving a responsible and trusted adult.

Teen MHFA is an evidence-based training program from Australia. The National Council adapted the training with support from Born This Way Foundation and Well Being Trust. The pilot program is being evaluated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to assess its effectiveness. The training will be made available to the public following analysis of the pilot study.