Online Program

Evaluation of the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training in Coatesville, PA: Preliminary Findings

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stacie Metz, PhD, MSW, MPH, MA, Department of Health, West Chester University, West Chester, PA
Allison Casola, BS, MPHc, Department of Health, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, PA

Coatesville Area School District students in Coatesville, PA are disproportionately impacted by depression, delinquency, and drug/alcohol issues.  Therefore, Brandywine Health Foundation and regional partners implemented the National Council on Behavioral Health’s 8-hour Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training program. The purpose of this evaluation was to measure training preliminary effectiveness on adult attendees’ pretest to posttest mental health knowledge, attitudes, and confidence in dealing with youth experiencing mental health challenges.


Participants included adults living, volunteering, or working in Coatesville, PA (n = 180).  A one-group pretest-posttest evaluation design assessed change in knowledge, attitudes, and confidence from before to immediately after the 8-hour training.


Preliminary evidence demonstrated pretest-posttest statistical improvements in mental health knowledge, attitudes, and confidence items. Mental health knowledge statistically improved from pretest (M = 9.5 out of 15, SD = 3.1) to posttest (M = 11.9, SD = 2.6), p = .000. Statistical improvements were observed in a number of attitude and confidence items, p < .05. Specifically, participants reported improvements in perceived confidence in recognizing signs/symptoms, asking if a youth is considering killing her/himself, offering basic “first aid” level information/reassurance, and being aware of own mental health views/feelings. Participants also reported program content and activities to be highly acceptable, with 97% recommending the program to others.


These findings provide promising preliminary evidence of YMHFA program effectiveness. It is anticipated these trainings will activate a stronger network of adults who feel confident to provide basic first aid to youth experiencing mental health challenges.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training impact on program participants’ mental health knowledge, attitudes, and confidence in providing “first aid” to youth experiencing mental health challenges or crises.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been employed as a statistical analyst and program evaluation consultant for over 15 years. I teach community health, mental health, and biostatistics undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Health since 2006. I also have published previous peer-reviewed journal articles on program evaluations and have presented those findings at conferences.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Brandywine Health Foundation Health Consultant

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.