CT News

The Mandell JCC and Cigna to launch youth mental health program

WEST HARTFORD – The Mandell Jewish Community Center (JCC) and Cigna Healthcare are partnering to offer a program that addresses the issue of mental illness among young people.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid Training program will be administered by the West Hartford JCC, with funding provided by a grant from the Cigna Foundation with additional support from Cigna.

The program will teach individuals to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It will provide adults who regularly interact with young people ages 12-18 — including teachers, parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, health and human service workers, school staff, first responders, coaches, camp counselors, pediatricians and others – with the tools needed to recognize crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and the skills necessary to provide initial help and support.

“We share Cigna’s commitment to improving the mental health of our youth,” says Mandell JCC Executive Director David Jacobs. “While the Mandell JCC is known for its fitness, we recognize the important role mental health plays in overall wellbeing. We also recognize that the conversation about mental health can be a sensitive discussion. There can be fear and stigma related to starting a conversation about mental health, but by teaching people how to identify, understand and respond to a mental health situation, we can help end the shame that keep so many from seeking the help they need.”

“At Cigna, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and teaching people how to respond to a mental health crisis is just as important as training people in CPR,” said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna Healthcare of Connecticut, Inc. “We are proud to collaborate with the Mandell JCC to bring this important, groundbreaking training to the Greater Hartford community.”

The JCC expects to train 350 Youth Mental Health First Aiders over the next year. The courses offered by the JCC will be taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors Rebecca Ewald Krusinski and Johanna Peck.

To date, more than one million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.

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