Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

Youth Mental Health First Aid: Implementation Lessons from Pennsylvania

By Dana Heiman, Brandywine Health Foundation and Alyson Ferguson, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation  
Located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Coatesville is one of Pennsylvania’s poorest communities. In the fall of 2013, the Brandywine
Health Foundation and key area leaders learned from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey about the high rates of depression among Coatesville-area youth compared with youth in the remainder of Chester County and the state as a whole. In addition, children in the Coatesville Area School District (CASD) were disproportionately affected by neglect, abuse, delinquency issues, and low graduation rates.
These statistics demonstrated not only the need for a strong behavioral health system of care, but also the critical impor- tance of prevention and early intervention for the ongoing success of Coatesville youth. Already the funder of two key behavioral health agencies, the Brandywine Health Foundation decided to further prioritize behavioral health issues in Coatesville and turned to colleagues at the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation in Philadelphia for ideas and evidence-based practices. After several meetings, the Brandywine Health Foundation’s staff and board of directors decided to move forward with a plan to bring the Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) curriculum to Coatesville.