EDINBURG – Licensed professional counselors from the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District recently certified approximately 30 parents through their Youth Mental Health First Aid Program. It’s the only program of its kind offered in the region where participants earn a three-year international certification.
“The Mental Health First Aid Program is an international training where everyone benefits from it,” said ECISD Licensed Professional Counselor Ileana Herrera. “It is similar to the CPR and First Aid training that we are more familiar with. It teaches you how to adequately respond and identify mental health concerns.”
In January 2019, Edinburg CISD launched the Youth Mental Health First Aid Program as recommended by Gov. Greg Abbott through the School and Firearm Safety Action Plan.
The program is designed to teach parents, caregivers, teachers, school staff, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help adolescents (ages 12 to 18) who are experiencing mental health challenges.
“The parents will be able to identify signs and symptoms of mental health,” said Herrera. “It even teaches them appropriate language to use.”
Since its inception, Edinburg CISD has certified approximately 500 school administrators, teachers and campus police officers. As part of its ongoing commitment in connecting with families, schools and communities, the District has also trained and certified more than 125 parents.
“I thought it was really good for us as a community to be involved in mental health,” said Alicia Correa, a parent from Travis Elementary School who attended the training. “Not only for your own children, but it’s good to also identify somebody else who’s going through that process and help that person.”
Herrera said that she hopes the program will encourage parents and their children to have conversations about mental health.
“We want to be able to talk about mental health more. The problems are here and the problems will stay and we need to be able to address it differently,” Herrera said.
The federally funded program is expected to provide mental health training and certifications to 2,754 Edinburg CISD school professionals and offer mental health education to students.