Editorial: CYD offering valuable service for mental health

As Bartholomew County steps up to deal with local mental health challenges, a local nonprofit is doing its part by offering free and reduced-price mental health training that can make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Council for Youth Development announced last week that it will offer free Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for people who live and work in Bartholomew County, and reduced-price training for those outside the county.

CYD is offering a tremendously valuable service here, and we encourage people to learn more and participate. The more people understand the mental health and substance abuse challenges that many youth, teens and adults are facing, the better they can help.

Begin with a virtual information session from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Register to receive a Zoom link on the events page of CYD’s website or at cydbartholomew.org/new-events/mhfa-info-session. And then get involved with the free or reduced-cost Mental Health First Aid training sessions that begin next month.

“Just as CPR helps even those without clinical training assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge or crisis,” CYD Professional Development Coordinator and Mental Health First Aid Instructor Allison Stidam said. The training sessions will offer Mental Health First Aid for adults, adults assisting youth, and teens.

Since CYD held its first Mental Health First Aid Course at the beginning of 2023, 139 Mental Health First Aiders have been trained in Bartholomew County. Now, many more will have the opportunity to enlist their aid.

As The Republic’s Brad Davis explained, MHFA is “an international evidence-based program that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.”

In Bartholomew County, those challenges are well above the national average, yet our community has fewer mental health care providers. According to data from Mental Health Matters Bartholomew County Initiative:

  • 24.4% of adults here experience fair or poor mental health, compared to a US average of 13.4%.
  • 22.5% of children 5-17 experience fair or poor mental health, compared to a US average of 5.7%.
  • In the Columbus Regional Health service area, there were 74.2 mental health providers per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 115.1 per 100,000.

Given this situation, we face a challenge locally to train as many people as possible who can help.

Further, the more we all understand and know how to respond to these challenges, the more the long-associated stigmas around mental health will fall away.

And on that note, even if you don’t take the training, it’s wise to understand that just as we and our loved ones are subject to challenges with our physical health, any of us likewise may face challenges with our mental health.

This training is a service to yourself and to the community, and thanks to Council for Youth Development, you can get it at little or no cost.

We applaud CYD for making this important training widely accessible, and we thank those who will take advantage of it.