SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO), in partnership with Springfield Public Schools, is participating in the country’s first teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program. CPO was selected as one of eight sites across the country by the National Council for Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation who are piloting the course in high schools this spring, making it the first training of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S. The pilot will occur with students at Kickapoo High School this spring.

 tMHFA is an in-person training designed for high school students to learn about mental illnesses and addictions, particularly how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among their peers. Similar to CPR, students learn a 5-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide.

The course specifically highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult. To ensure additional support for students taking the training, Springfield Public Schools has also trained many school staff in Youth Mental Health First Aid, for adults working with young people.

tMHFA is an evidence-based training program from Australia. The National Council adapted the training with support from Born This Way Foundation and Well Being Trust. The pilot program is being evaluated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health to assess its effectiveness. The training will be made available to the public following an analysis of the pilot study.