Youth mental health program offers education in detection and prevention

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The conference room at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHBG) is packed. The topic the group is covering is often a difficult one to address.

“We see signs or symptoms developing maybe as early as 8 to 12, right?” Karen Rice asks.

Rice, the VHBG Director of Therapeutic Resources, has been a counselor for ten years at the school and group homes on campus. She knows there needs to be an education in detection when it comes to children with emotional and behavioral health issues.

“This workshop is our rallying cry to make mental health first aid for youth as common as anyone learning CPR or Red Cross First Aid,” Rice explains.

The workshops called ‘Youth Mental Health First Aid’ invite the public to get involved in

They cover how to respond to a crisis, what to say and how to connect adolescents with professional help.

“The training that we offer here can answer a lot of those questions and help people see the solutions and the hope that’s in the community,” says Cory Richardson-Lauve, the VHBG Vice President of Programming.

Adds Lionel Bacon, the Vice President for Philanthropy, “Trauma is very, very real.”

Bacon says so many kids are suffering. Developing relationships with them and knowing warning signs can help.

Rice recommends simply asking if they are okay.

“It’s amazing how many young people tell you once you ask that question, ‘You’re the first person who’s ever asked me if I needed help,'” Rice relays. “The compassion needs to start with, ‘I’m concerned about you’ and people being willing to take that step.”

The next Youth Mental Health First Aid workshop is happening on Friday, March 23 at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls, 8716 West Broad Street in Henrico County. It is free and open to the public.

Follow this link for more information or to register.

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