For Immediate Release

Jason Edelstein

Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings Available Nationwide

Skills-Based Certificate Course (CPR for Mental Health) Utilizes Jewish Frameworks to Teach Any Caring Adult in the Jewish Community How to Support Adolescents and Create Action Plan for Those in Crisis


January 28, 2021 – The Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and Jewish Federations of North America are partnering to respond to increasing and alarming rates of stress, anxiety and depression in teens and young adults. Nearly 1,000 Jewish professionals, caregivers and parents who interact with and care about young people in the Jewish community can participate in training as Youth Mental Health First Aiders, a virtual certification course administered by the National Council of Behavioral Health. The course for a limited number of people is offered at no cost thanks to the generous support of the Aviv Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Jim Joseph Foundation through the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) and Crown Family Philanthropies.

Those trained will develop skills to encourage self-help, contribute to reducing stigma, and obtain the language and skills to distinguish typical behavior from areas of concern in need of expert help. Jewish context and teachings will be blended with this new skillset to be highly relevant to the Jewish community. Youth professionals also will be trained to recognize, over virtual platforms, if teens are struggling, and how to access local clinical help if needed.

These expanded trainings build on the Funder Collaborative’s focus on adolescent mental health and wellness since its formation in 2013. Through the Collaborative’s efforts, nearly 400 youth professionals have been certified in YMHFA. The Collaborative’s investment also includes a national Community of Practice of more than 50 YMHFA instructors across the Jewish community and the creation of complementary Jewish educational resources.

“Adolescence is a time of change and self-discovery, which can lead to stress and anxiety. In light of recent events, young people need us more than ever — and, thankfully, virtual programming enables us to expand easily nationwide,” said Sara Allen, executive director of The Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative. “Youth Mental Health First Aid is a powerful tool and we want to make this training as common as CPR. The course is especially helpful for educators and youth professionals who can struggle to balance supporting young peoples’ emotional health while also offering engaging programs, as well as parents seeking resources and a supportive community. We are grateful for the philanthropic leadership that enables the Jewish community to respond so effectively to growing mental health needs.”

COVID-19 and subsequent upheaval have dramatically impacted youth and young adults. Studies show that their emotional and mental health are suffering without in-person school, extracurricular activities, and in-person interactions with classmates and friends. One-third of Americans are experiencing clinical levels of anxiety, depression or both; crisis text lines have shown a collective 40% increase in volume.

“As a national network of mental health providers, the member agencies of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies are grateful for the opportunity to extend their clinical resources to strengthen a web of support at this critical time,” said Reuben Rotman, CEO of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies.

“By working across the Jewish community and with the generous support of visionary funders, this new initiative will address one of the most urgent unmet needs in the Jewish community today,” said Mark Wilf, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees. “We are incredibly proud of how our community has responded to the unprecedented crisis intensified by the COVID pandemic. This initiative serves as a true example of what our community can do when we work together.”

What Virtual First Aiders Will Learn

Youth Mental Health First Aid introduces emotional health challenges and teaches how to distinguish between typical adolescent development and symptoms of a mental health or substance use issues. It focuses on signs and symptoms of issues most common to this age group, such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders, and the impact of social media and bullying. It reviews proactive ways to encourage self-care activities, as youth often are unable to communicate changes in feeling or explain what they need.

Participants will leave with ‘ALGEE: CPR for Mental Health’ a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.


  • Asses for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Anyone who interacts with youth, adolescents and young adults (ages 12-21) would benefit, particularly youth group leaders, camp counselors and staff, peer engagers, teachers, school administrators and parents.
The virtual certification takes no longer than six hours and is a combination of self-paced learning and instructor-led, cohort-based workshops. This is designed to enable networking and community-building among participants. Virtual First Aiders will receive a certification valid for three years upon completion.

To bring YMHFA to your organization, network or community, or to get certified yourself, please fill out this brief form so we may follow up directly. For additional questions or information about the trainings, email Wellness Director Margie Bogdanow at Limited spots are available.