TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Three years ago, one Idaho mom lost her son. Now she is working around the clock to turn her grief into support for mental health support.
"Skyler loved everybody and we loved Skyler," said Wendy Gardner, who lost her son to suicide. "Skyler knew we loved him. Skyler just didn't love Skyler."
Since Skyler’s death, Gardner and her family have been a champion for talking about mental health. To open up the conversation, they created an organization known as Love Yourself to spread awareness.
“It's a challenge every day of our lives,” said Gardner. “It’s like a typhoon that just washed over the top of us and all that was left was the foundation.”
Gardner is not alone in her efforts. The Idaho State Department of Education and the Department of Health and Welfare are working to fund youth mental health first aid classes across the state.
“These are hard conversations to have,” said Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield. “They are especially hard when you are unprepared.”
The classes are designed to be delivered to adults who work with youth or live with young adults. They teach adults how to assess a person for signs of suicidal thoughts or other mental health conditions.
“Mental health is no different than having cancer,” said Gardner. “It is incorporating it in our tools, that are going to help us put it in our backpacks as we climb up a mountain if you would of life.”
For more information on upcoming youth mental health first aid classes follow this link.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental health, contact Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357 or the Crisis Hotline at 208-788-3596.