Teen Mental Health First Aid: What Parents Need to Know

Dr Angela Zagoren – Director of Counselling and Wellbeing Health

During Term 2 and Term 3 at TSS we will be facilitating Teen Mental Health First Aid (TMHFA) training to all Grade 7 students. TMHFA gives teenagers the skills they need to recognise mental health problems and crises in their friends, and to get the help of an adult quickly.

Young people will often turn to each other when stressed or upset, which can result in friends taking on too much in their attempt to help. This course teaches them not to take on these problems alone.

We have not introduced TMHFA because of any specific problems at TSS. Rather, it is part of our preventative approach to supporting mental health in a population group who are particularly vulnerable to developing mental illness.

Once your son has completed the course he will bring home a manual and a certificate of completion. The manual has many great resources included and can be a good tool for you both. We also encourage you to talk to your son about what he has learnt in the course to strengthen the habit of having meaningful conversations with you son around caring for his mental health.

Although it is not the focus, the course does discuss suicide. You may wish to discuss this with your son prior to the program if you feel there is a risk he will find it distressing. The following outlines the content of the program.

Year 7 Training

Session 1 – Discusses mental health problems in general, and encourages an understanding of how common and disabling these can be in young people.

Session 2 – Students learn about professionals who can help, and explore the Action Plan (‘Look, Ask, Listen, Help Your Friend’), which is introduced for the first time during this session. You can find details about the Action Plan on the MHFA website listed below. Students are taught that in a crisis situation it is important to get a responsible adult involved right away, and even when it is not a crisis, adult help is important.

Session 3 – In session three the focus is on practising using the Action Plan. Students are given advice about being supportive friends, encouraging a friend to seek help, knowing when it is time to get an adult involved and how to take care of themselves.

If you wish to learn more…

… about mental health problems experienced by young people, visit:

… about suicide:

… about tMHFA and other MHFA courses:

For immediate online help for teenagers:

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Senior School Counselling Team: 

Jordan Howley

Senior School Psychologist/ Teen MHFA Facilitator

P: +617 5531 9846

E: [email protected]


Dr Angela Zagoren

Director of Counselling and Wellbeing Health

Senior Psychologist/ Youth MHFA Facilitator

P: +617 5531 9902

E: [email protected]

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