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Local Non-Profit Hopes to Help More Young People Struggling with Mental Illness

Flickr/ PHC Images

A grant awarded this week to a Springfield non-profit is expected to result in faster help for youth struggling with mental health issues.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

The Community Partnership of the Ozarks received a three-year Project AWARE Community Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It’s going to be used to saturate Greene County with an eight-hour training called Youth Mental Health First Aid or YMHFA, according to Rikki Barton.  She’s the director of the CPO’s Regional Support Center in the Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Division.

Barton said the training is for adults to learn how they can help young people facing a mental health situation.

"And either help them deal with the situation or refer them on to appropriate resources for them whether that be counseling or some kind of resource that would help them to work through that issue," she said.

CPO will train 25 facilitators who will conduct the sessions on YMHFA.  By the end of three years, Barton said they hope to have 2700 adults trained to help youth with mental illness.

According to Barton, a Missouri student survey found that, in 2014, 13 percent of Greene County youth in grades six through 12 seriously considered suicide.

"That's a number that we're not comfortable with.  We don't want any youth struggling with those kinds of thoughts and so that presented the need, really, locally, for this to happen," she said.

Another component of the grant is a social media campaign to reduce the stigma behind mental health issues.

"To help the community see that these are issues that can be addressed and can be worked through and that there's a way to do that effectively through this training," she said.

She expects the facilitators to be ready to start the training sessions by the beginning of 2016.