Foundation fund

Berks YMCA offers mental health first aid training

In response to the national mental health crisis, the YMCA of Reading and Berks County is now offering mental health first aid training for youth, the YMCA announced in a news release Tuesday.

Start-up funds for the program were provided by the Berks County Community Foundation Home Health Care Foundation Fund.

The skills-based course teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to the signs and symptoms of youth mental health or addiction issues.

Like physical first aid, mental health first aid can help young people in crisis until professional assistance is obtained or the crisis is resolved, the statement said.

Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and addiction issues can be hard to see. Friends and family may struggle to know when and how to intervene, the statement said.

According to the YMCA, young mental health first aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of making contact and offering appropriate support.

“Fifty percent of all mental illnesses begin at age 14, which is why this training is so essential for teachers, coaches, parents, or anyone else who regularly interacts with young people,” said Alyssa Bushkie, director of operations at Reading and Berks. County YMCA, and the first facilitator trained for this program.

More than 2.6 million Americans are already certified mental health first aiders, according to the statement.

Contact Alyssa Bushkie at [email protected] to arrange training or visit ymcarbc.org to register.