Dr. Jennifer Bailey discusses the importance of new youth mental health training

By RealWV staff,

RealWV sat down with Dr. Jennifer Bailey earlier this week to discuss a youth mental health training she and her team at the Monroe Health Center are offering.

Tell us about what your program and who it serves? 

Dr. Bailey: Youth Mental Health First Aid is a world-wide evidence-based training program that has been implemented by a team at the Monroe Health Center with sponsorship from the United Way of the Greenbrier Valley.  The course is an in-person training that teaches adults who interact with youth  how to identity, understand, and respond to a youth who is having a mental health challenge.  The training gives the skills and confidence needed to reached out and make the initial connection to community resources for a youth that is struggling.   Through implementing early intervention from a caring adult, we can make a positive impact on the mental wellness of youth in our area. 

Who can receive the training? Where, when, how? 

Dr. Bailey: The training is open to ANY adult who works with youth and is interested in learning these skills. Through the continued support of the Monroe Health Center and our sponsorship from the United Way of the Greenbrier Valley, the training is offered free of charge.  A variety of people have successfully completed the training including concerned parents, teachers, first responders, health care professionals, people working in our local daycares and family resource centers, and legal professionals.  The training team is flexible in location and have presented at the Monroe Health Center in Union and schools.  We have periodic trainings that are open to the public and will soon announce our next training opportunity.  We are open to training to a selective group such as schools, non-profit organizations, or businesses depending on the need.  For training information, please contact Brandy Lester at b.lester@monroehealthcenter.com or call at (304)772-3064 ext. 124.

Can you give us a sense of what the training is like or what folks will learn? 

Dr. Bailey: Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches adults a systematic approach to intervening with a youth that may be struggling.  Similar to medical first aid, people learn how to be the link between a youth and the resources that they may need to thrive.  The training is an interactive, hands on training where people will not only learn information but also practice their skills all while building connections with other community members. 

Why is youth mental health so important in today’s world? 

Dr. Bailey: Youth mental wellness is a major concern for our area.  It is no secret that our children and adolescents are suffering.  The latest statistics for depressive related symptoms in WV show that 48% of West Virginia Teens (64% of teen girls and 32% of teen boys) suffer from persistent sadness / hopelessness, 21% of WV teens are diagnosed with a depressive disorder, 28% of WV high school students have seriously considered suicide, and 23% of WV high school students have attempted suicide.  When compared to the national rates, WV youth are experiencing higher rates of depressive disorder / depressive symptoms.  Statistics for anxiety symptoms/disorder, substance use/disorders, and all other mental health challenges are elevated for our WV youth as well. This sobering and truly heartbreaking reality is a call to action for the adults in these young people’s lives.  WV has been experiencing what feels like a never ending substance use disorder epidemic.  YMHFA addresses substance use disorder through prevention and early intervention hoping that a youth may never even begin the process of self-medicating a mental health disorder. 

From the left, the team is comprised of: Alicia Walker, Licensed Psychologist, YMHFA Instructor;
Brandy Lester, Administrative Assistant, YMHFA Coordinator; Dr. Jennifer Bailey, DO FAAP, YMHFA Instructor.

Are you hopeful that you can make a difference?

Dr. Bailey: Although our area may not have the most mental health professionals to help with mental health disorders in youth, we do have one of the strongest, most caring communities.  As we train more and more community members, I feel such a sense of pride in our area. 

For more information, you can reach the Monroe Health Center at (304) 772-3064.

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