Third grade teacher Nashlay Pasiche is an overnight student at Melrose.
“I just thought it was really important to educate myself because as a teacher, I deal a lot with what’s present emotionally and physically and all of that,” she said.
She is part of a class of residents taking a free course on spotting signs of mental health distress in young people.
“What we get from social media, what we get from our homes or where we’re surrounded by, we see there’s a lot of negative things coming into their brains or their environment. And I’ve seen their mental health deteriorate because of that.”
The CDC reports that anxiety and depression in children has increased over time. A report from the federal agency found one in five American teenagers experienced major depression, and that was before the pandemic. In the years since then, city leaders in Melrose decided they wanted to do something.
“There’s a lot of isolation coming back and going out into the world and interacting with peers and a lot of that you’ve taken away from them over the last two or three years,” explained Anthony Chui, the health director for the city. of Melrose, Town of Wakefield and Town of Stoneham.
The city’s social services coordinator and public health specialist teach youth and adult mental health first aid courses to give adults tools to help when a problem arises.
“Hopefully we can have those difficult conversations with young people, identify young people in crisis, that’s probably the most important thing. We will refer them to the right professionals who are able to proceed further with treatment,” Chui said.
Ryan Duffy is a parent and is taking the class, not just for his family, but because he hopes to one day coach his daughter’s team.
“I think it’s an important program to be able to recognize early signs of challenges that players may face in the team,” he said.
The city wants to train as many people as possible.
“Now that we have a better understanding of how isolation affects young people, I think the mental health part is much more acceptable to talk about,” Chui said.
And for Nashaly Pasiche, she has found a lesson to take back to her classroom.
“Because I didn’t get that as a person or growing up as a little kid. I wanted to be able to give that to other people.”
These classes will be held quarterly in Melrose. For more information – see the city’s website. https://www.cityofmelrose.org/health-and-human-services/events/75571
And if you’re interested in something like this – check with your city or town – some offer similar training.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Line by calling 988CALL National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the crisis text line by texting “Home” to 741741 anytime.
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