UW program trains students, teens to provide mental health support for peers

A University of Washington program has students already supporting those seeking mental health help. The program has been a great success so far.

SEATTLE – It’s a problem that cannot be ignored. Millions of people visit the emergency department each year with a major diagnosis of mental health disorders.

A University of Washington program that works with community health organizations is getting students and youth to provide support, with resounding success.

20-year-old Bruno Flores is a graduate of the University of Washington (UW) with a major in psychology.

“I’m Hispanic, I was born in Mexico and came here when I was four,” he said.

For Flores, Washington is home.

“This is my country, I grew up here,” he said.

Flores said he and his siblings would educate their parents about mental health, but they were often shut down.

“For the male side of the culture, it’s very macho. Be a man, don’t cry,” Flores said.

Now, Flores is trying to address the mental health of minority teens through the UW’s Mental Health Matters program.

“The primary goal is to reduce suicide and hospitalization rates within the county and state of Washington,” said Professor Jody Early of the University of Washington Bothell. She is co-director of the community-based program in partnership with Verdant Health and North Sound Accountable Community of Health.

“We understood we couldn’t wait for professionals to graduate and get licensed, we had to do something now,” said Sandra Huber, community engagement manager at the Verdant Health Commission.

The program uses multiple strategies, including culturally tailored mental health education, virtual roundtables, peer health navigation, and community-driven events, to promote mental health and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.

“If we look at numbers from the CDC and other organizations, we see that suicide rates have quadrupled in just the last five years,” Early said.

Teens can also get involved in the program through peer navigation training.

“Not only provide basic foundations of what mental health is, but also talk about it through a cultural lens,” Early said.

Youth counseling groups are run by teenagers and college students like Bruno.

“I think once these resources are available, they will help people with mental health issues,” Bruno said.

The program started in southern Snohomish County and has been so successful that surrounding counties want to be involved. The program has expanded to four additional counties, including King and Skagit counties.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/university-of-washington-program-mental-health/281-b17bfd8e-e890-4e4f-8bf8-99942d803681 UW program trains students, teens to provide mental health support for peers

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing Alley@ustimespost.com.

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