** The Region’s Only Teen Mental Health First Aid Training is Launched by The LightHouse Arabia for Teenagers to be ‘First-Responders’ for Peers **
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - 23 July 2019: Half of all mental health disorders like depression or anxiety start by age 14, but most cases remain undetected and go untreated for approximately eight to ten years. This long and dangerous delay is usually due to a combination of lack of awareness of what mental health problems are, not knowing how to respond, and the stigma surrounding mental health.
Building on their mission to help improve mental health across the Middle East, The LightHouse Arabia has created a platform for intervention to happen earlier, through the launch of Teen-to-Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) training.
The equivalent of physical first aid but for mental health, the tMHFA training course gives teenagers the skills they need to recognize and respond to mental health problems and crises in their friends, and to get the help of a responsible adult quickly. Young people will often turn to each other when stressed or upset, and try to help each other, taking too much on. This course teaches teens to support their peers as ‘first responders’, while arming them with the knowledge and awareness of not needing to take on these problems alone. The LightHouse Arabia is the only accredited provider of Mental Health First Aid programs in the UAE.
“It is critical that teens be trained in MHFA because they are the first people that come in contact with their struggling peers”, says Dr. Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director at The LightHouse Arabia. She adds, “However, because they lack the skills to appropriately handle the distressing situation when it arises, they end up feeling very overwhelmed and stressed. The tMHFA course teaches teens to detect and deal with mental health problems as they arise in peers.”
The LightHouse Arabia was founded in 2011 by clinical psychologists Dr. Saliha Afridi and Dr. Tara Wyne, whose shared mission and vision is to make the region happier and healthier. With an international team of over 30 licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, The LightHouse is a community mental health and wellness center providing quality care to children, adults, couples and families. The LightHouse also work with corporations, schools, hospitals and other institutions to promote mental wellness through education and training programs. The center is also home to the Raymee Grief Center, a free-of-charge grief support service – the first of its kind in the region.
The tMHFA training course is the third prong in The LightHouse Arabia’s existing accredited Mental Health First Aid training program, which continues to grow in popularity and numbers of certified Mental Health First Aiders across the UAE. Until now, trainings have been available for Adults supporting Adults, and Adults supporting Adolescents. The Teen training will support a younger but crucial audience with the training having a tailored focus on two age groups: ages 13 – 15 years and ages 16 – 18 years.
Key learnings in the tMHFA training will focus on teens learning how to respond to a friend who may be experiencing depression, bullying, a panic attack, or having suicidal thoughts using the Mental Health First Aid action plan. A teen Mental Health First Aider does NOT learn how to counsel or diagnose. The training is led by licensed clinicians at the LightHouse Arabia who share the belief that no one should suffer in silence.
The 4-hour pilot training for tMHFA will be taking place on Friday, June 14th at The LightHouse Arabia from 11am until 3pm at their Center for Wellbeing located at 821 Al Wasl Road, Al Safa 2, Dubai.