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State recognizes first class of instructors in youth mental health first aid

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The Department of Health and Human Services recognized the first group of instructors to graduate the state's new Youth Mental Health First Aid program.

As an instructor, these individuals are able to go out in the community and teach people how to recognize, but not treat, symptoms that youth suffering from a mental illness may display.

"Just like regular first aid doesn't make you a doctor, mental health first aid doesn't necessarily make you a clinician," said John Scalise, who works at East Carolina Behavioral Health and was recognized as a Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor.

"I think people believe that you're either all well, or all ill, when it comes to mental illness," Scalise said. "It would be nice if that stigma gets reduced and people understand that it's just a health problem like anything else."

Patricia Turner is another instructor who works at Eastpointe in Goldsboro. She says she values the opportunity to go out in the community and teach them about this very important issue.

"This class will teach you how to approach that young person, how to gather information that you need, and how to make choices as to which professional you need to call," Turner said.

Scalise hopes that youth will be able to find peace knowing there are people who can help them.

"Hopefully people are out there who are struggling won't be struggling alone," he said.

If you are interested in having instructors train you or your organization, you visit Eastpointe's website or East Carolina Behavior Health's website to find out more information.

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