New Partnership with M Health Fairview for Mental Health First Aid

What if first aid training for mental health was as common as First Aid and CPR training? With dramatic increases in the number of people struggling with mental health issues in our country, Princeton Public Schools is excited to announce a new partnership that will make Mental Health First Aid Training available to our high school staff and students in the near future.

Princeton Public Schools is partnering with M Health Fairview and The Heart and Mind Connection to offer one of the first teen Mental Health First Aid programs in Minnesota – funded by the M Health Fairview system.

Overseen by the National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based community education course that introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of common mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The teen program trains students on how to recognize mental health warning signs, start honest conversations with friends and direct peers to resources.

Sophomore Health will Include Mental Health First Aid
Starting next fall, every sophomore at Princeton High School will take the teen course – which includes six 45-minute sessions – beginning in September and integrated into our Health Education curriculum. This June, all high school staff and faculty will participate in the seven-and-a-half-hour youth Mental Health First Aid training, designed for adults working with ages 12 to 18.
Both courses will be funded by M Health Fairview, who reached out to Princeton Public Schools and The Heart and Mind Connection to initiate the program. As the largest mental health care provider in the Upper Midwest, this partnership reinforces the health system’s commitment to providing a spectrum of mental health services to patients and the community.
“Being a teen can be hard enough without the added stresses of a pandemic. It’s so important to provide teens with the skills to identify when they or their peers may be facing a mental health or substance use challenge,” said Jessica Cici, MD, a psychiatrist with M Health Fairview. “Teens will often go to their peers before an adult, so giving kids the tools they need to seek the appropriate resources for help is invaluable.”
Proactive Training and Intervention
The trainings will be facilitated by The Heart and Mind Connection, a Minnesota nonprofit focused on peer-run mental health advocacy and awareness programs, who will teach both courses, and help the district provide outreach and information to the Princeton community.

As a public school system, we want to be proactive in teaching our staff and students how to recognize signs that a student may be struggling and to know how to respond and best provide support. As leaders, we believe Princeton can be a model for the rest of the state on early intervention and support for teen mental health and well-being.

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