Georgia State Youth Resilience

What we do…

The purpose of the Georgia State Youth Resilience project is to:

  1. increase mental health awareness and literacy among adults who interact with adolescents (ages 12-18) in the Clarkston, Georgia, and surrounding community areas
  2. increase the number of Clarkston area community youth who are referred to behavioral and mental health services; and
  3. ultimately to decrease adolescent mental health and substance use issues in the Clarkston area communities.

Email our team at [email protected]

Join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gsu_reslience.

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Upcoming Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings


Friday, March 11
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — International Welcome Center — CLOSED

Friday, March 11
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Midway International School — CLOSED

Georgia State Youth Resilience is made up of the following doctoral students and faculty from the Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development's Department of Counseling and Psychological Services.

  • Dr. Jeff Ashby is a professor in the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services at Georgia State University.
  • He is the director of Georgia State’s American Psychological Association Accredited Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program, a licensed psychologist, a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a registered play therapist supervisor.
  • Ashby has taught mental health professionals for over 20 years and has served as a committee member and the chair of the ethics committee of the International Association of Play Therapy.
  • His research interests include stress and coping, cognitive structures that mediate mental health care (e.g., perfectionism), refugee mental health and treatment for children and adolescents.
  • He has made over 100 presentations at professional conferences and authored/co-authored more than 80 articles in refereed journals, numerous book chapters and two books.
  • In clinical practice, Ashby has focused on the treatment of adolescents and children, serving them in a number of settings (e.g., school-based services, private practice, medical office).
  • He currently works with multiple refugee and immigrant serving organizations to provide adult and adolescent stress and acculturation presentations and youth activities.

  • Dr. Alan Stewart is a fourth year student in the Georgia State University, counseling psychology doctoral program.
  • He is the director of the Georgia Chapter of Boys to Men Mentoring, which works specifically with adolescent boys, and is a past president of the Georgia Chapter of the ManKind Project.
  • Having led a variety of groups for boys and men over the past fifteen years, he focuses his research and practice activities on the psychology of masculinity, masculine socialization, intimate partner violence, perfectionism and stress and coping.
  • He speaks publicly and teaches workshops to those working with adolescent boys, including Boys and The Boy Code (invited keynote, Georgia Parent-Teacher Association), Ethical Competencies in the Treatment of Boys and Men (one-day workshop, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and multiple behavioral health organizations) and The Code: Masculinity, Brotherhood & Leadership (invited presentation, Greek Student Leadership & Development Conference).
  • Additionally, as a psychology intern at Oglethorpe University, he assisted in the presentation of two mental health first aid courses and was trained as a Safe Outlet for LGBTQQIA students.
  • Currently, Stewart is involved in providing activities for refugee youth in an after school program, as well as presenting stress and acculturation workshops to adults.
  • He comes to counseling psychology after a successful naval career, which included service as a certified instructor at the National Cryptologic School where he taught courses in training design and adult learning, and as a senior aviation safety instructor.

  • Sarah McLaulin is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Georgia State University.
  • Her research interests include workplace related stress, perfectionism, burnout, the “imposter phenomenon” and emergency preparedness and disaster related trauma and resilience.
  • Sarah has studied emergency preparedness and worked in public health settings where she has been able to research psychological and mental health first aid.
  • Prior to pursuing her doctorate in psychology, Sarah completed her M.BA. with a concentration in marketing, M.S. in managerial sciences, and B.A. in journalism.
  • Sarah has worked in public health, specifically regarding emergency preparedness policy issues.
  • She also has experience with grant reviews, project management, evaluation and measurement.
  • Prior to her work in public health, Sarah worked in marketing for both public and private sectors.
  • In addition to her work in marketing, she also worked in journalism for the Wall Street Journal.
  • Sarah is currently involved in facilitating adventure-based group activities for refugee youth in an after-school program, as well as conducting stress and acculturation presentations with adults.
  • She has done clinical work with HIV positive populations, helps conduct substance abuse programs in a community mental health setting, and university counseling centers.

  • Jhodi Bowie is a third year student in the Georgia State University, counseling psychology doctoral program.
  • She earned her bachelors’ degree in psychology at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
  • She received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Clemson University.
  • After her master’s degree, Jhodi worked as a counselor primarily for female victims of crime in her home country of Jamaica.
  • Jhodi’s professional interests focus on gender discrimination and women’s experiences of trauma.
  • Jhodi enjoys spending time with friends and taking care of young children and she would love to have her own family someday.

  • Sara Karaga is a first year student in the Georgia State University, counseling psychology doctoral program.
  • Sara earned her B.S. in psychology from Auburn University and her M.S. in mental health counseling from Georgia State University.
  • Sara works with Ashby. Her professional interests focus on developing resiliency following traumatic events and protective barriers from PTSD.
  • Sara’s clinical interests are with adult populations, individuals who identify on the LGBT spectrum and HIV positive populations.
  • Sara enjoys cooking, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

students walking down a street

Youth Mental Health First Aid USA is an 8-hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.

Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder.

Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The Youth Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adolescents and transition-age youth, ages 12-18.

The purpose of this program is to support the training of teachers and a broad array of actors at the community level who interact with youth through their programs, including parents, law enforcement, faith-based leaders and other adults, in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) or Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).

Implementation of the NITT-AWARE-C Program is expected to increase the mental health literacy among youth-serving adults, policy-makers, and administrators of programs serving youth.

The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.), but is being tested for appropriateness within older adolescent groups (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction.

In January 2013, President Obama recommended training for teachers in Mental Health First Aid. Since 2008, the core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to more than 175,000 people across the USA, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement and the general public.

Please continue to visit our website for updates about upcoming trainings.

Also, please feel free to email our team at [email protected]. To learn more about Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid USA, or to find a course or contact an instructor in your area, visit


Girl sitting behind trees


Youth-Serving Resource Description
Breakthrough Recovery Outreach (BRO) 90 day residential substance abuse and mental and behavioral health services for male and female youth. Dedicated to helping the entire family work through the network of problems caused by the teen’s substance use or dependency, as well as the underlying mental health and social issues behind it.
Child and Adolescent Mood Program Emory University School of Medicine (CAMP) Outpatient clinical services include psychopharmacological evaluations and medication management, individual therapy, family therapy, parent skills training, group therapy, and diagnostic, intelligence, and achievement testing.
CHRIS Kids Delivers a broad continuum of services to children, youth & families that allow them to reach their natural potential for success, happiness and health.
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Behavioral Health Link Provides treatment and support services to people with mental illnesses and addictive diseases, and support to people with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities. Manages the Georgia Crisis & Access Line.
Emory University Psychology Department Psychological Center Individual, couples, family and group psychotherapy is available on a sliding fee scale. IQ, learning disability, attention deficit disorder and neuropsychological assessment services are also available.
Laurel Heights Hospital Offers acute inpatient psychiatric, intensive residential treatment, autism spectrum disorders residential, TRICARE-certified adolescent boys, Laurel Heights Academy, and specialized foster care programs.
Oakhurst Medical Center Oakhurst Medical has opened the door for improved access to care by integrating behavioral health services as a component of our primary care program.
Peachford Hosptial Acute inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, individual outpatient, parenting classes.
Positive Impact Individual, couples, family, and group counseling for mental health, substance abuse and other addiction issues in both English and Spanish. PI provides a variety of services: HIV specialty primary care, prevention services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, substance abuse treatment, housing support and pharmacy services.
View Point Health Provides access to multi level care including crisis stabilization, substance abuse, behavioral health screening, and outpatient treatment.