In January, The National Council for Mental Wellbeing selected PEI Kids to provide Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training for teens in Ewing High School (EHS) as part of a two-year statewide initiative. Since that time, demand for the program has exploded in Mercer County as school districts seek ways to support their students through what has been identified as a national mental health crisis.
For the 2022-23 School year, PEI Kids has received requests to provide the tMHFA program in five schools including Hopewell Valley HS, Princeton HS, Ewing HS, and West Windsor-Plainsboro HS North and South. In total, the program will be presented to 1,590 Mercer County students.
Executive Director, Roz Dashiell explains, "TMHFA is an evidence-based training program that teaches teens how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of suicide risk, mental health and substance use challenges among their friends and peers. To support this effort, we've had the good fortune of hiring a highly qualified team with impressive credentials ranging from career educators to law enforcement. We couldn't ask for a better group," added Dashiell.
The tMHFA instructor team includes (pictured, top to bottom) Amy O'Donnell, Nicole Clark, Nancy Schiavone (returning for her second year), and Annette Henderson. Collectively, the group -- along with Prevention Director Erika Hillman -- will deliver a total of 432 workshops across the five participating high schools. Thanks to the work of this dedicated team, over 1,500 10th- and 11th-graders will acquire the skills to intervene before a mental health challenge becomes a crisis. That's important work...way to go, team!