Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM)
Programs available through the Risk and Resilience Network will allow adolescents to learn and develop life-long coping and resilience skills that are shown to help teens and young adults avoid high risk and self-destructive behavior that can lead to poor academic achievement, substance abuse, more severe psychiatric conditions, and even suicide.
Youth Aware of Mental Health, YAM, is an interactive program for adolescents promoting increased discussion and knowledge about mental health, suicide prevention, and the development of problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence. YAM brings different learning methods together with the fundamental components of the program being as follows: five interactive sessions, role-playing, informational reading materials and posters for display in the classroom.
The YAM program was developed and tested in a large project in Europe. YAM and two other programs were administered to over 12,000 students in 179 schools, across nine European countries. The YAM program was more effective than the other programs in significantly improving adolescent mental health. We are now adapting YAM to be used in the United States.
YAM encourages the development of a large set of skills and knowledge about mental health. The YAM materials are designed to convey information about mental health, coping skills and emotional intelligence to adolescents, while at once not overwhelming them with complicated information, and allowing each participating group to influence the content. The adolescents learn from both a professional and from each other through a mix of cognitive, emotional and experiential learning.
The YAM program includes education on the following themes:
- Awareness about mental health
- Self-help advice
- Stress and crisis
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Helping a troubled friend
- Getting advice: who to contact
Train the Facilitator
Over the last 4 years, the CDRC team has reached over 14,500 youth in 29 schools (charter, public, private) with the YAM program. Due to the program’s success, the CDRC team has transitioned to training new facilitators to reach more students and create more sustainable school-based mental health programming.
The CDRC is one of the few organizations currently offering YAM certification, in partnership with Mental Health in Mind International AB, in the United States. Through a partnership with the CDRC, community providers and school staff can be trained to be certified YAM Facilitators. The training takes place over 4.5 days. Partners will receive training and ongoing support from Jennifer Hughes, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Tobi Fuller, Ph.D., M.S.N, RN. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Hughes is an Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern and has developed interventions to address depression and suicide prevention in youth, with funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Fuller is an educational psychologist who facilitates the planning of training and ongoing support between CDRC staff and our partners. Please send an email to Dr. Fuller for more information about our YAM Facilitator training.