Mental & Emotional Wellness

Youth in a fieldMichigan 4-H Youth Development works with adult volunteers and staff members to offer mental health and emotional wellness programs for youth. These programs increase knowledge of mental illness allowing participants to identify signs and symptoms and accessible mental health and wellness resources for themselves and peers.  

Youth participants gain an understanding about mental health and the importance of incorporating emotional wellness and self-care into their lives. MSU Extension trained more than two thirds of staff in Mental Health First Aid and provides ongoing professional development training for staff in the areas of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and being trauma-sensitive during programming.  

Available Trainings

Mental Health  

    • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health challenge or is in crisis. YMHFA is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The 6-8 hour course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.  MSU Extension has multiple YMHFA instructors that travel across the state to train staff, volunteers and external organizations.   
    • Your Thoughts Matter. Jami Dellifield and Amanda Raines are the authors of "Your Thoughts Matter" from The Ohio State University Extension. This 4-H mental health project training includes 10 one-hour sessions. Ideal for middle- or high-school students, this training covers topics such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, mental health in the media, stigma and various resources.  Michigan 4-H uses "Your Thoughts Matter" in a SPIN club delivery with six or more sessions.  


    • Young person doing yoga4-H Yoga for KidsThe Healthy Living: Yoga for Kids program was developed in Arkansas, and the routines outlined in the curriculum and DVD provide simple exercises that can be performed in a variety of settings, including classrooms, camps and at home. Yoga is a great way to engage kids in physical activity because it helps improve flexibility, balance, and strength all while being noncompetitive and inexpensive. Some studies have even suggested that practicing yoga can improve a child's attention, relationships, self-esteem, and listening skills. 

    • Mindful Me. This 4-H curriculum contains seven one-hour sessions for youth ages 5-8. The program promotes mindful practices that lead to improvements in managing one’s goals, developing a sense of self, managing time and stress, regulating emotions and eating mindfully. There is a teen version that will be discussed at this training (however, it is still in the pilot stages). Michigan 4-H uses the Mindful Me curriculum in a SPIN club format or incorporated into other healthy living programs.

Contact Information:

For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county Michigan State University Extension office or:

Kea Norrell Aitch

Featured Resources

4-H Mindful Monday: Nature Walks

4-H Mindful Monday: Integrity

Notice your surroundings and release the tension in your body to practice mindfulness and encourage calmness.

Youth and adults can learn to navigate stress through mindfulness

July 9, 2018

Everyday mindfulness is key to social and emotional health and well-being.

Three kids sitting on stairs

Managing Youth Stress

March 27, 2020

MSU Extension provides the opportunity for people to understand and help the youth with managing stressful moments within their life.

Feelings Mask cover page.

Heads In, Hearts In: Feelings Mask

October 18, 2018

In this activity, you will explore emotions with the child by creating a mask that represents a feeling or emotion.