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South Selfie for first aid certification
A South selfie was required for the roomful of HSS staff members who became Youth Mental Health First Aid certified during a professional development day Feb. 16.

March 4, 2024-- During a professional development day Feb. 16, staff members from all three district high schools spent the half-day completing their First Aid certification through a mental-health-based program in partnership with RWJBarnabas Health.

That program, Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) and its accompanying teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), was announced in a press release a few days later. The programs will further advance, in a very tangible way, the district's efforts in mental health.

High School East certified staff

High School East staff show off their certifications.

Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among children and adolescents age 12-18. District staff who became YMHF certified last month had begun the process with some personal web-based training, and completed the process over the course of a few hours during the district's most recent professional development day.

"This is an awesome opportunity for us to provide teens with the appropriate education needed to recognize signs of distress in their peers and to direct them to trusted adults who can gain them quick access to resources,” said Toms River Regional Schools Assistant Superintendent Cara DiMeo. “Teen Mental Health First Aid is a great supplement to instruction that students receive in our health classes.”