Now, more than ever, teens and young adults are looking for ways to actively address the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse that continues to affect our schools, homes, and communities. The issue of mental health touches all of us in one way or another and IHPC wanted to provide high schoolers the opportunity to learn more about mental health careers, while learning how to stay healthy and offer peer support to others.
In June, we offered Mental Health First Aid training to area high school students interested in the field of mental health or wishing to learn how to identify and respond to the signs of mental illness. The response was huge. The first workshop filled up so quickly we had to offer a second workshop in August, which also filled up.
Then, OSHPD funded the PEP (Pipeline Enhancement Project) so that we could pilot a mental health pipeline project for the Cajon and Murrieta High Schools. Again, the response from students was overwhelming, with almost 300 students signing up to participate!
Now Corona-Norco Unified has joined the effort by partnering with us to provide a three-day Encompassing Mental Health workshop for STEM students. The workshop is designed to again, provide students an intimate look into mental health careers through the eyes of health professionals. They are also learning about local resources for those needing help, and will receive certification in mental health first aid which teaches students how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness or substance abuse, in an age-appropriate manner. More than 50 students registered for the workshops, which are being held at Riverside University Health System.
The first workshop introduced students to the Cup of Happy program at Operation Safe House - Riverside and the Virtual Reality Medical Center in San Diego which piloted VR technology for use in the treatment of PTSD in military soldiers. The students were captivated by the idea that "gaming" technology could be used by psychologists and research specialists in the field of behavioral health to treat mental health issues. The second workshop was actually a field trip to the Queen of Hearts equestrian center where students were shown how horses are being used in a variety of therapies. Finally, students will also receive a certificate of completion for Mental Health First Aid on the third and final day this Saturday.