Stagg High School Selected to Participate in teen Mental Health First Aid Pilot Program

Stagg High School Selected to Participate in teen Mental Health First Aid Pilot Program
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Stagg High School Selected to Participate in teen Mental Health First Aid Pilot Program

Stagg High School will train more than 500 high school students in Palos Hills, Illinois

Stagg High School is participating in the country’s first teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program the week of April 22 in Palos Hills, Illinois. The school was one of eight selected by the National Council for Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation who are piloting the course in high schools this spring, making it the first training of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Eric Olsen, Principal at Stagg High School. “The program will teach high school students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.”

tMHFA is an in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions, particularly how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among their peers. Similar to CPR, students learn a 5-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide.

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School Palos Heights. Courtesy of Stagg High school

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School Palos Heights. Courtesy of Stagg High school

The course specifically highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult. To ensure additional support for students taking the training, Stagg High School has also trained school staff in Mental Health First Aid for Adults Working with Young People.

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“We’re excited Stagg High School is one of the first U.S. high schools to participate in teen Mental Health First Aid,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “Teens trust their friends, so they need to be trained to recognize signs of mental health or substance use problems in their peers. The number one thing a teen can do to support a friend dealing with anxiety or depression is to help the friend seek support from a trusted adult.”

“Through this pilot, Stagg High School is taking an important step towards ensuring their students are able to recognize when a friend or peer might be struggling and to feel confident that they know what to do to help,” said Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation. “Knowing how to spot the signs that someone in our lives is experiencing a mental health challenge and understanding how we can support that person is a basic life skill we all need to have – especially teenagers.”

tMHFA 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.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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