Learning Mental Health First Aid at the Ramah Weinstein Conference – By Sarah Hasson
Camp is a physical, emotional, and spiritual escape from the outside world for campers and staff alike. As a junior counselor in 2021, I learned quickly that I had to make mental health a priority for my co-counselors and campers, and for myself. Behind the scenes, the roshei edah (unit heads), yoetzot (camper care staff) and other staff members balance the needs of each camper and staff with the needs of the entire camp and tzrif (bunk). Although I learned an immense amount about how to support campers during shavua hachana (staff week) and over the kayitz (summer), it was clear to me that there is always more to learn about mental health and integrating mental health training into my day-to-day work as a counselor.
This month, at National Ramah’s virtual Weinstein Conference, I, along with several other counselors from Palmer, had the opportunity to take a course in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). Through the course, we became certified as Mental Health First Aiders. We learned and practiced skills from day-to-day mental health support to immediate crisis support. The course has helped me feel significantly more prepared and excited for the upcoming kayitz, as the picture of mental health.