Mifflin County Communities That Care


As we continue to navigate uncharted territory COVID-19 brings, our concern for our youth and community members has never been greater. This pandemic and its aftermath have the potential to trigger some mental health challenges. Supporting our youth and one another is going to be vital as we move forward in the coming months.

Three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.

Question, Persuade, and Refer - QPR - the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.

Thanks to the generosity of the Scott Sipple Foundation, the Jana Marie Foundation is excited to announce they will be offering several QPR trainings. These virtual trainings will be free to attend. Advanced registration is required and can be done online:

QPR Registration - Jana Marie Foundation

The dates and times available are as follows:

Wednesday, February 10 at 10am

Monday, January 22 at 6pm

Thursday, March 4 at 1pm

Tuesday, March 23 at 5:30pm

Friday, April 2 at 10am

Wednesday, April 14 at 5:30pm

ABOUT QPR: Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying “Yes” to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor.


How to Question, Persuade and Refer someone who may be suicidal

How to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide

The common causes of suicidal behavior

The warning signs of suicide

How to get help for someone in crisis

Calm Breathing

This short Box Breathing video is a relaxation technique: how to calm feelings of stress or anxiety

Box breathing relaxation technique: how to calm feelings of stress or anxiety

PAYS PSU Survey shows depression and anxiety among Pennsylvania youth. Penn State experts team up with state and local organizations to provide support.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Data from the most recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) show an alarming percentage of Pennsylvania’s youth suffer from mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety. According to the 2019 PAYS, in which 239,340 students from 419 Pennsylvania school districts participated, 38% of all students indicated that they felt depressed or sad most days in the past 12 months.

“The mental health statistics for 10th and 12th graders are particularly concerning,” said Geoff Kolchin, program analyst for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). Approximately 1 in 5 had considered suicide in the past year, according to the survey.

The PAYS is an anonymous survey of 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students conducted every two years. The students report on what they think, know and believe about a wide range of risk factors such as substance use, bullying, and mental health issues — as well as protective factors such as family involvement and engagement in youth activities. Statewide and county-level survey results are available on the PCCD website, and participating school districts receive a report tailored to their local community.

Evidence-based Implementation Support (EPIS) specialists from Penn State, in partnership with state and local agencies, are dedicated to providing PAYS training and technical assistance to schools, agencies and community groups to support the well-being of Pennsylvania youth.

‘Yes, these are local problems.’

Cathy Keegan, Milton Area School District superintendent, is one of many community leaders using PAYS data to address the risks that students face.

“There is true power in using the data. We chose to look more deeply at the risk factors for depression and suicide,” Keegan explained. “We focused on the amount and nature of bullying; percentage of bullying by type; threats of acts of violent behavior on school property; access and usage of alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs; and lastly, food insecurity. Because we remained focused, we are celebrating significant progress in all of these areas.”

Keegan said that knowing the PAYS survey results led to systemic change, including the training of all instructional staff in the Question, Persuade, Refer suicide prevention program; the implementation of the Positive Action social and emotional learning curriculum; and the use of the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support framework, all of which have been shown by research to be effective.

Keegan credited EPIS Systems Change Specialist Meghan Blevins with building local support for creating new systems and programs to help students with serious issues such as depression and food insecurity.

“Meghan expertly and professionally tackled tough community member questions, using the data to demonstrate that yes, these are local problems,” Keegan said.

‘We need to hear what’s going on.’

“PAYS is the way to find out what’s going on within your community and in your schools,” Kolchin said.

Kolchin expressed concerns about the use of marijuana, alcohol and vaping devices, as well as students feeling disengaged from school — especially given the stresses that youth are facing during the current pandemic.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this data is directly from our kids,” said Kolchin. “We need to hear what’s going on. It’s not just about what our kids are doing, but understanding the causes and how we can be effective with limited resources.”

PAYS is funded by PCCD, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Rose Baker, assistant research professor at Penn State’s Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, supervised the 2019 PAYS survey design, administration and analyses.

Top risk factor for Mifflin County youth: Depressive Symptoms.

Top protective factor for Mifflin County youth: Opportunities for Pro-Social Involvement.

Ignite!: Getting Your Community Coalition Fired Up for Change.

“With a comprehensive action plan, a coalition can engage people, ideas, and resources across sectors to create a synergy of health and prevention efforts that will have a lasting effect on community health.”― Frances Dunn Butterfoss

JOIN US for Mifflin County Communities That Cares strategic planning meeting on February 26, 2021 at 11:30 am. We will discuss the prioritized risk and protective factors, past/current goals, and our plans for the future. Every opinion matters! Mark your calendars to participate. Please click the link below to access zoom information.

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Mifflin County Communities That Care

Mission: Through community collaboration, CTC will provide positive prevention initiatives to engage youth and families in supporting a safe and healthy community.

Vision: Mifflin County will be a positive, healthy, thriving community for our youth and families.