With mental health awareness on the rise, 16 local youth took the extra step with the help of the Pictou County YMCA and learned Mental Health First Aid at a recent youth camp near Truro. Gittens Lodge played host to the first every youth retreat this year for the YMCA and the two-day camp proved to be a hit with the students.
After expressing an interest in learning about mental health first aid, the youth were thrilled to be able to have the chance to learn those skills as well as some leadership skills and strategic planning. Heather Beaton of the Pictou County YMCA taught the first aid training after having taken the training herself to prepare for this retreat.
“It’s more of a stage of early intervention and you might be able to support and connect people to resources when they’re in crisis,” said Beaton about the training. The weekend was open to any youth interested in participating.
“In the past, our youth have expressed an interest in learning more about mental health.”
Mental health wasn’t the only thing that the youth had a chance to learn and be vocal about. With the aim of supporting and teaching the youth, the retreat also touched on other skills that the youth will be able to use in the future.
“There was a big focus on mental health, but there was also a focus on leadership and development,” Beaton said about the retreat. The opportunity was also used to hear what younger people would like to see in the future and how the YMCA and other programs can be more attractive to young people.
“It was youth giving us input on what they would like to see in the coming year,” Beaton said.
Overall, Beaton said, she considered the camp a success based on the feedback they heard about the retreat from those who attended. The YMCA of Pictou County is hoping to be able to do more retreats like this in the future as well with more topics and training that the younger generations indicate are of interest to them.
“They reported feeling more informed, more refreshed, it was all positive,” said Beaton. “Ideally we’ll do… different types of training. Whatever the youth are interested in is what we’ll work towards.”
Local youth learn Mental Health First Aid at a recent youth camp held at Gittens Lodge near Truro, thanks to the Pictou County YMCA. (Submitted photos)