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Berks YMCA offering mental health first aid training

Reading Eagle - 6/28/2022

Jun. 28—In response to the nationwide mental health crisis, the Reading and Berks County YMCA is now offering youth mental health first aid training, the YMCA announced in a press release Tuesday.

Startup funds for the program were provided by the Berks County Community Foundation's home health care foundation fund.

The skills-based course teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health or substance use challenges in youth.

Like physical first aid, mental health first aid can help youths experiencing a crisis until professional assistance is obtained, or the crisis is resolved, according to the release.

Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and substance use issues can be difficult to see. Friends and family may find it hard to know when and how to step in, the release said.

Youth mental health first-aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support, according to the YMCA.

"Fifty percent of all mental illnesses begin by age 14, which is why this training is so critical for teachers, coaches, parents, or any other people who interact with youth regularly," said Alyssa Bushkie, director of operations at the Reading and Berks County YMCA, and the first trained facilitator for this program.

More than 2.6 million Americans are already certified mental health first aiders, according to the release.

Contact Alyssa Bushkie at to set up training or visit to sign up.


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