Resources to strengthen young peoples’ mental health
When considering how to create effective youth mental health programs, Eric Evans takes a broad view.
“We know that it is not just for one person or one group of people,” said Evans, director of prevention services for Geminus, the social services provider for Regional Care Group. “To support the mental health of our young people, we need to grow their protective skills—goal setting, managing their emotions and anger, advocating for themselves.”
Mental health advocates also need to work with caregivers to recognize problematic behaviors that are cause for concern, he added. That includes interacting with school and other youth-affiliated organizations.
“It’s almost a wraparound approach in prevention,” Evans said.
Geminus offers an array of trainings to strengthen youth mental health in Lake County and Northwest Indiana. Those include:
- Youth Mental Health First Aid: Based on the same general concept of CPR training, the program helps adults be prepared to respond to a young person’s mental health crisis by providing training participants with a baseline understanding of mental and emotional health of young people and tools for responding and assisting if a crisis occurs.
- QPR: Question, Persuade and Refer is a training focused on reducing suicides and suicidal behavior, and is offered to parents and adults working with young people.
- Too Good: In partnership with schools, Too Good focuses on developing skills in youth for making healthy choices, building positive friendships, developing self-efficacy, communicating effectively, and resisting peer pressure and influence.
Geminus also coordinates two community-based coalitions that work in part on youth mental health:
- SAFE (Supporting Addiction-Free Environments) Coalition, which focuses on preventing and resolving substance misuse and includes members of law enforcement, corrections and treatment and addiction centers.
- Northwest Indiana Suicide Prevention Council includes community members and agencies such as universities, mental health care centers, education centers, schools, hospitals, support groups and more. The Council works to create and sustain healthy communities throughout Lake County and Northwest Indiana. It’s open to anyone interested in attending.
Resources such as those and other community-based social services are particularly important now, Evans said.
“Our young people are going through a lot these days,” he added, “and I think we need a collective approach to help support them.