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Program helps adults help teens

Do you work with teenagers?

Are you a parent of a child between the ages of 12 and 18?Do you worry that something is wrong in a child's life but have no idea what to do to help them?If you answered yes to any of these questions, there's a program available to adults that could help them save an adolescent's life.Kat Werner, an AmeriCorps member with Eastcentral Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center, recently spoke to the Carbon County Interagency and Family Collaborative Board about Youth Mental Health First Aid courses that are available in the county.According to the website of Mental Health First Aid USA, which oversees the course, the "Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent age 12-18, who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis."Werner said it is an eight-hour public education program that educates adults on risk factors, warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds an understanding of the importance of early intervention and teaches people how to effectively help a teen in crisis or mental health challenge.Topics covered in the course include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders and eating disorders.Werner said the program was created after the Sandy Hook tragedy."You never know when someone will come into a situation that requires help," she said.Werner added that through the course, participants learn ALGEE, a five-step action plan to assess a situation and provide necessary assistance to the adolescent in crisis.ALGEE stands for Assess for risk of suicide or harm, Listen nonjudgmentally, Give reassurance and information, Encourage appropriate professional help, and Encourage self-help and other support strategies.There are currently no open courses scheduled in Carbon County, but Werner told area agencies that groups can contact her to schedule a course. At least 10 people are needed for a course.For more information, contact Werner at 610-379-2001 or

kwerner@ecpaahec.org, or visit

www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.The course was developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health, The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.