Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

Provided free of charge with a grant from Granny's Attic

FREE Training

Do you care about Island teens? Are you someone to whom they trust and could talk to? Do you want to be? Much like learning CPR in order to help someone in a health emergency, YMHFA helps you prepare to offer assistance to a youth in crisis. Register TODAY.

(Free training courtesy of a Granny's Attic grant)

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults  who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Why Take This Class?

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. This 6-hour training gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

Topics covered include:

  • Common signs and symptoms of mental illness in this age group, including
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • Common signs and symptoms of substance use
  • How to interact with a child or adolescent in crisis
  • How to connect the person with help
  • NEW: Expanded content on trauma, addiction and self-care and the impact of social media and bullying
Learn More (pdf)




Peggy Rubens-Ellis works in the field of Prevention and has her M. Ed. In K-12 School Counseling. She currently works for VARSA at McMurray Middle School. She has been teaching Youth Mental Health First Aid for the past three years and LOVES contributing to the health of our island.

Suzan McMann is a Certified Trauma-Informed Recovery Coach, Teen and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and Guiding Good Choices Facilitator. She is also VARSA's Schools Programs Liaison working with Vashon High School and McMurray Middle School prevention clubs.


The training I received from the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training was invaluable. The trainers were extremely knowledgeable, organized, funny (when appropriate), and they packed our brains with tremendously important and interesting facts. Included in the training were a lot of interactive role playing and hands on activities that were super helpful. The day went fast and I left feeling like I had the tools I would need if I encounter a youth or an adult in a crisis situation. Thank you VARSA for bringing such an important training to our community. I wish that everyone could get this training, regardless of whether you work with youth or not. The information you will acquire at this training is crucial for everyone!

Laura Wheeler, Training Participant