Third-grade teacher Nashlay Pasiche is a student for the night in Melrose.
“I just thought it was like really important to educate myself because as a teacher, I deal a lot with what is being present as emotional, physical and all of that,” she said.
She’s part of a class of residents taking a free course on spotting signs of mental health distress in young people.
“What we get from social media, what we get from our homes or where we're surrounded by, we see that there's a lot of negative things coming into their brains or into their environment. And I've seen that because of that their mental health has depleted.”
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The CDC reports that anxiety and depression in children has increased over time. A report from the federal agency revealing one in five U.S. teens experienced major depression, and that was before the pandemic. In the years since, city leaders in Melrose decided they wanted to do something.
“There's a lot of isolation coming back and out into the world and interacting with peers and a lot of these you kind of have that taken away from them for the last two or three years," explained Anthony Chui, the health director for the City of Melrose, Town of Wakefield, and Town of Stoneham.
The city’s social services coordinator and public health specialist teach both youth and adult mental health first aid courses to give adults tools to help when a problem presents itself.
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“Hopefully to be able to have those difficult conversations with youth, identify youth in crisis, that's probably the most important thing. We'll direct them to the right professionals that are able to go further with the treatment,” said Chui.
Ryan Duffy is a parent and is taking the class, not just for his family, but because he hopes to one day coach for his daughter’s team.
“I think that it's an important program to be able to recognize early signs of challenges that you know, players on the team might be facing," he said.
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The city wants to train as many people as possible.
“Now that we have a better understanding of how isolation affects youth, I think the mental health portion is much more out there and much more acceptable to talk about,” said Chui.
And for Nashaly Pasiche, she’s found a lesson to take back to her own classroom.
“Because I didn't receive that as a person or growing up as a little kid. I wanted to be able to give that to other people.”
These classes will be held quarterly in Melrose. For more information – check out the city’s website. https://www.cityofmelrose.org/health-and-human-services/events/75571
And if you’re interested in something like this – check with your city or town - some offer similar trainings.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741 anytime.