Steele introduces Youth Mental Health First Aid Bill
Legislation would provide more money to train people to recognize mental health issues in youth
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), recently introduced the Youth Mental Health First Aid Bill. HB 2490 would provide an additional $250,000 to the Department of Health Services for a Mental Health First Aid Program specifically designed to help people identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders in youth.
“This bill would expand a program that we know is already working to get youth who are showing signs of distress the aid they need before they go into crisis,” Steele said.
The funding would be used to create more training opportunities for people who work with youth between the ages of 12 and 18. Steele, a licensed professional counselor and a mental health professional, said behavioral issues often start to develop during adolescence.
“Mental health issues manifest differently in young people. By augmenting this program, we can prepare more people who interact with kids on a regular basis to recognize the warning signs,” Steele said. “This training could be for teachers, school staff, coaches and even young people. The goal is to show them how to identify when a young person is struggling and to teach them how to intervene and get the appropriate assistance.”
Steele added that she hopes the training will also help eliminate the stigma that is often associated with mental health issues.
“We must make it easier for people to talk about mental health so that they can get the treatment they need,” Steele said. “This benefits the community and those in crisis.”
To see a full copy of the bill, go to http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2490&Session_Id=112.