Springfield Students Will Be Offered Training In Mental Health, Thanks To Lady Gaga’s Foundation

The mental health first aid training will stress the importance of being a responsible and trusted adult as soon as possible.

Springfield Students Mental Health Lady Gaga Foundation

Amy Moran, a high school counselor, often appreciates when teenagers trust her enough to reveal their problems. However, she believes she is rarely the first one to know about their problems.

Moran is stationed at Kickapoo High School. She said, “Teens are telling teens when there is an issue, when they are struggling. They tell a friend first.”

The students will be trained on how to respond and seek help if they face any type of mental health issues.

Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) collaborated with Springfield Public Schools to initiate the nation’s first teen Mental Health First Aid pilot program.

Chris Davis, the vice president of prevention and youth support for CPO, said in a news release, “We are thrilled to introduce teen Mental Health First Aid to our community. The program will teach students to recognize and respond when their friends are experiencing the early stages of a mental health or addiction problem.”

Springfield is among the eight sites that have been selected by the National Council for Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

In recent years, CPO has taken great efforts in training adults, including teachers, in Mental Health First Aid.

The program is expected to start this week. All second-year undergraduates at Kickapoo High School will undergo a full-day training. Moran said, “They will officially be the first teens trained in Mental Health First Aid.”

The training will help them learn how to notice the warning signs of mental health issues and addictions, and how to respond and seek help. The students will be offered training in a five-step action plan, similar to CPR. The aim is to make them a responsible and trusted adult in the future.

Linda Rosenberg, the president and the CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said, “We’re excited for Kickapoo High School to be one of the first high schools across the country to participate in teen Mental Health First Aid.”

Linda added, “Teens trust their friends, so they need to be trained to recognize signs of mental health or substance use problems in their peers. The number one thing a teen can do to support a friend dealing with anxiety or depression is to help the friend seek support from a trusted adult.”

Moran and fellow Kickapoo counselor Mavie Busboom have undergone intensive training in the Washington D.C. They will be training the Kickapoo students through March and April.

Moran said, “It’s basically teaching students if their friends need help, how to get help. Sometimes, they just need support. They just need a friend.”

Rhonda Mammen, the director of counseling services for Springfield Public Schools, said “Training provides an introduction but the Mental Health First Aid for teens is more comprehensive. This will be a great benefit to our students and will seamlessly integrate with the many other efforts we have been implementing at SPS to promote mental health awareness.”

“Equipping our students and staff to recognize early warning signs is a key step in supporting students who are struggling and connecting them with the help they need to live positive, healthy lives,” said Mammen. Mammen also explained that the district wants to collaborate with CPO to offer the training to more high schools. She said, “We want to continue to offer it.”