Youth Mental Health First Aid

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
Healthy Minds
May 21, 2019

Fairfax County Public Schools has partnered with the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board Wellness and Health Department to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) to our schools and our school communities.  YMHFA is an eight-hour public education program which introduces participants to:

  • Unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in youth (ages 12-18)
  • Normal adolescent development and important protective factors
  • Importance of early intervention
  • Strategies to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge
  • Role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care

Participants learn a core five-step action plan that teaches them how to help youth developing a mental illness or experiencing an emotional crisis:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen non judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

*** Participants do learn warning signs and risk factors of mental illness or crisis and how to connect individuals with the appropriate professional care.

*** Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide therapy or counseling.
The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with youth such as parents, school staff, health and human service workers, coaches, community leaders, etc.  Special arrangements for peer training of select youth age 16 and older may also be available.

  • The eight-hour training can be offered in one eight-hour session or two four-hour sessions.
  • Group size is a minimum of 5 participants with a maximum of 25 participants.
  • There is no cost for trainings offered by FCPS staff.
  • Schools may arrange for parent, staff and/or youth training through the following contact information:  Jennifer Spears, Mental Wellness Specialist, 571-423-4321,

Learn more about Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Healthy Minds is for parents, educators, and community-based providers who are interested in supporting student mental health and wellness. It represents a collaboration between FCPS’ Office of Intervention and Prevention Services and the Fairfax County Government. SUBSCRIBE to Healthy Minds and receive a monthly digest of our most recent articles.