Prayers are with the students, families, and residents of Broward County, the state of Florida, and the nation in the wake of the most recent and horrific school shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This was a senseless act of violence that no one should ever have to endure. Mental Health of Northeast Florida’s support has been extended to that community, and we are here to help in any way that we can.
As with any tragedy, we as a community want to identify the signs before catastrophe strikes. In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began development of a program that educates on mental health and substance use issues and identifies community resources for support. The outcome of this work was development and funding of an evidence-based prevention training called Mental Health First Aid.
This program is not for mental health professionals, but rather for community citizens such as teachers, law enforcement, parents, employers, etc. Mental Health First Aid helps our community recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in youth and adults. It teaches you how to talk about mental health, what to do in a crisis, what treatments are available in your area and risk factors.
The training teaches participants the warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. It also teaches participants to recognize the signs of suicide, and how to get help.
These resources are available in our community free of charge. Over the past two years, MHA of Northeast Florida has trained over 1,505 individuals in our community, and other agencies have trained even more. If you would like to learn more about Mental Health First Aid or locate a training, please click here.
We are here to help. The most important thing any of us can do right now is talk to our children and make sure they understand that they can talk with parents or another adult. The cries for help can often be subtle, so learning to talk about our feelings and struggles is a significant step forward. Resources are available in our communities for all, and if you are struggling to locate those resources, reach out to MHA, and we can assist you in that search. www.mhajax.org