SEATTLE — Seattle Children’s is sponsoring classes for Youth Mental Health First Aid. It is part of a national program intended to educate parents, health professionals and educators about how to spot, understand, and intervene with children who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
Many learn CPR for when someone is in cardiac arrest, but knowing when someone is in a mental health crisis, and knowing what to do about it, can help save a life, too.
In the classes offered monthly, members of the community, teachers, and parents, train as if it's CPR for Mental Health.
Laura Crooks, who worked for years at Seattle Children’s as the Senior Director of Patient and Family Experience, was instrumental in getting them to sponsor Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Her son Chad took his own life in 2016. Since then, she and her husband Todd founded Chads Legacy Project, to help others understand mental health and prevent the loss of more lives.
“This is about if somebody is having a mental health crisis - what to do if somebody is feeling really depressed or is saying I don't know if life is worth living. What to do at that moment, how to get them help, how to listen to them and then hopefully get them to the right resources or to intervene in a way so that they can access those resources,” explained Laura Crooks.
Knowing what to do and what to say when someone is having a mental health crisis is a big part of what Youth Mental Health First Aid trainers try to convey.
Nipuna Dasi is the mother of two young adults who are diagnosed with autism. She has taken the Mental Health First Aid training and thinks of it as mental health triage.
“There's a lot of stigma about it, but there are a lot of people standing in the shadows just desperate for something that they can do. And this isn't the only thing, this isn't the end all be all, this is not the cure for things, but this is one thing that people can do that can really make a difference. And if we start with those people, then we start to break down that stigma and we get to the place where we can all benefit from it,” said Laura Crooks.
Seattle Children’s was the first children’s hospital to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid training on a regular basis. Classes are held monthly and you can sign up online.
This story is sponsored by Seattle's Children's.