Students at Loudoun Co. high school to receive mental health training program

Students at Freedom High School in Loudoun County are among the first in the nation to receive specialized mental health training.

The school has been singled out by the National Council on Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to participate in a teen Mental Health First Aid pilot program. The program is devoted to enhancing mental wellness of young people.

Freedom High School is one of eight high schools nationwide to be selected.

“According to the 2017 Virginia Youth Survey, one in five females and one in 10 males in middle and high school have seriously contemplated suicide in the last 12 months,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey.

The program aims to train teenagers how to recognize signs of mental health crisis, respond and get help. The training — scheduled to begin this spring — is described as a five-step plan, similar to CPR.

Specifically designed for teenagers, the training program originated in Australia. The pilot program will be evaluated for its effectiveness by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Equipping teens with the training and skills they need to recognize a mental health crisis in a friend can make a lifesaving difference when it comes to not only getting them the treatment they need, but also breaking the stigma that still surrounds mental illness,” Carey said.

A second Virginia high school — Charlottesville High School — is among the eight pilot schools testing the program.

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