This year, Crossroads received a gift dedicated to supporting mental health education. With those funds, Counselor Gina Watkins and Learning Specialist Carrie Shaughnessy attended an intensive, weeklong course called Mental Health First Aid. Through seminars, projects, and presentations, they learned methods to identify students in mental health crisis, approaches to calming the immediate situation, and guidelines for finding appropriate help.
Gina and Carrie were also certified as trainers in Mental Health First Aid. Next year, they will begin working to train the rest of the Crossroads faculty to be mental health “first responders.”
“As a counselor,” Gina says, “the most poignant thing I learned is ‘health is health’.” This notion — health is health — draws attention to the fact that mental illness originates in the body, and is no more the fault of the sufferer than a cold or broken arm. Her experience at the conference was “something I am truly grateful for.”
“Once you’re trained,” Carrie says, “you feel a sense of responsibility to be an ambassador.” When you’re prepared, you’re more likely to step in when you see a need.
Carrie says the experience challenged her as a student, reminding her what it’s like to be in a “high-stakes” learning environment. That, along with new knowledge about how anxiety and depression can show up in young people, has increased her ability to be an effective, compassionate support for students and families.
On Mental Health Awareness Day on May 2nd, speaker Colleen Pace of CHADS (Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide) Coalition echoed the message that it is all of our work to fight the stigma associated with mental health challenges, and to find ways to support peers and loved ones experiencing mental illness. Students received bracelets and stress balls with the message “stop the stigma,” as reminders for the year.
Crossroads also purchased a collection of books related to teen mental health, available to all in the new Mental Health and Self Care section of the Library.
Crossroads will continue to recognize Mental Health Awareness Day, sending the message, Gina says, that “we are a school that embraces dealing with mental health” in a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere. In this way, “those affected feel seen and attended to,” something we strive for all of our students to feel.
In the future, Carrie says she hopes to secure a grant to attend a more focused, two-day session of Mental Health First Aid specifically about working with youth.
Books in the new Mental Health and Self-Care Collection
- Think Confident
- Mindfulness for Teen Depression
- Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens
- What’s Eating You?
- Getting Over Overeating Workbook for Teens
- Perfectionism Workbook for Teens
- Teen Girl’s Survival Guide
- Body Image Workbook for Teens
- Anger Workbook for Teens
- Social Success Workbook for Teens
- Executive Functioning Workbook for Teens
- Magill’s Medical Guide
- When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness
- Stuff that Sucks: A Teen’s Guide to Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can
- Change Happens
- How to Breakup With Your Phone
- Yoga for Your Mind and Body
- 101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety: Simple Tips, Techniques and Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Panic Attacks
- Depression: A Teen’s Guide to Survive and Thrive
- It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
- Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You
- The Anti-Depressant Book: A Practical Guide for Teens and Young Adults to Overcome Depression and Stay Healthy