When Jamie Gorman had a panic attack at the mall, her friends knew what to do. This was not just luck. They, like every sophomore at Ramsey High School in Ramsey, New Jersey, had just finished a training program called Teen Mental Health First Aid. Since 2020, the number of people trained in mental health first aid in the U.S. has more than doubled, to over 1.1 million and the reasons for the growing interest are clear. As the mental health among students overall continues to worsen, these programs give them a lot of ownership, self-direction, knowledge, and self-confidence. The curriculum covers anxiety and panic disorders, depression, suicide, eating disorders, addiction and other common mental health concerns specific for the age. It trains teens in the appropriate actions to take if a friend shows warning signs of a developing problem, plunges into acute crisis, or is recovering. Given the excellent results, organizations like Child Trends have been urging schools and communities to take this all-hands-on-deck approach. Scientists, educators, and members of the public all agree. There is growing evidence showing that the more people in a community who have this knowledge, the more likely someone who is hurting will receives an early intervention before their needs become more severe. Ultimately, this kind of training can promote mental well-being across a population.

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