Currently, over 46.6 million Americans experience mental illness in any given year. In addition, approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during that time. These disorders include anxiety, mood changes, suicidal ideation, and behavioral or conduct issues. These issues are increasing and are increasingly seen in the experiential education setting at many of our programs. Many of these concerns begin early in a person’s life with the experiential education setting having the potential to exacerbate these problems due to the participants being in novel physical and social environments. Our programs, however, also have a unique opportunity to help address the mental health crisis in the United States with highly effective health-based programming.
Of particular interest are staff management and practices as well as current practices and techniques utilized to manage many of the more most common behavioral issues. Some examples of these theories include; Strengths-based approach, Conscious Disciplining, De-Escalation Techniques, Conflict Resolution, Ecological Systems Theory, and the Theory of Reasoned Action. By providing participants, campers, or students experiences that increase a student’s potential for healthy behavioral and mental health outcomes, experiential education can contribute to the ability toward dealing with traumatic events such as loss of a loved family member or adverse conditions at school. This, along with another potential programming will also be explored throughout this workshop due to the high potential camps can have in addressing the national mental health crisis.
With this, we are left with the question of what our field will do and which direction we will turn. A slow uptake and adaptation to the behavioral and mental health issues will certainly put our programs behind the curve in helping with the national mental health crisis. Additionally, what is our moral obligation to contribute to this problem? With treatments like participation in our programs with such high capacity to do good and help others, aren't we obligated to turn our sites towards ways to help others? At Alpenglow, we hope to help lead the charge in our field and help programs reach their full potential for their participants! Learn more on our website and check out the FREE Behavioral First Responder Demo course.