Wheeler is among 75 schools nationwide — and the only school in Rhode Island — selected to participate in the teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program, an initiative of artist Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Working in partnership with Bradley Hospital and Wheeler’s Health Services Department, the tMHFA program raises mental health awareness among teens by addressing key issues of mental health in five professionally-led 45-minute sessions. Tenth-grade students will receive the training in the pilot year.
“Wheeler is committed to training our faculty and staff in Youth Mental Health First Aid. This project will allow us to grow our initiatives to educate the whole child, giving them the tools needed to recognize signs of developing mental illness, substance use problems, or crises, particularly thoughts of suicide. We see this as a wonderful complement to our student-led Teen Mental Health Awareness Club, which raises awareness and reduces stigma in our community.” – Peggy O’Neil, Wheeler Director of Counseling and Student Health Services
“Bradley is honored to collaborate with Wheeler as the Rhode Island leadership of this national effort to chip away at the stigma that comes with mental health involvement. Armed with behavioral health education, our youth will win hearts and minds.” Margaret R. Paccione-Dyszlewski, Ph.D., Director, Clinical Innovation, Bradley Hospital
The innovative new peer-to-peer program empowers young people to support each other in times of need or crisis. Wheeler will collaborate with Bradley Hospital throughout the pilot project, and all participating students have the option to participate in a research study about the program orchestrated through Johns Hopkins University.
The pilot program integrates with Wheeler’s Strategic Design for 2023 initiatives in Health & Wellness which includes creating mindfulness, mental health, empathy and metacognitive frameworks across all divisions of the Nursery – Gr. 12 school.