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Community Education

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour training certification course designed to improve mental health literacy. Trainees will learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness. Participants will be taught a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual.

The certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.

The course is suitable for many difference audiences, including staff members who work in mental health and primary care settings, employers and human resources managers, pastors and church leaders, school personnel, state police and corrections officers, nursing home staff, volunteers, students, families and the general public. No previous experience in the mental health field is necessary.

Mental Health First Aid training, which originated in Australia in 2001, can be compared to CPR and first aid training offered through the Red Cross. However, it is geared specifically for mental health situations. Since one in four American adults will have a mental health problem in any given year, it is important to know how to appropriately respond to an emergency.

The National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare adopted the program in 2008 and has been working with communities throughout the United States to implement Mental Health First Aid with the objective to arm the public with skills to help individuals who are developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Since then, more than 60,000 individuals across the U.S. have been trained in MHFA.

Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the MHFA CPR-like program is effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

The next class will be offered in the spring of 2013.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid 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 or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The 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.

Developing Empathy for a Person with a Psychiatric Disability: A Simulation of Hearing Distressing Voices

Developing Empathy for a Person with a Psychiatric Disability: A Simulation of Hearing Distressing Voices”,is a 3-hour experiential training program designed to give attendees an idea of what it is like to “hear voices”. The program was developed by Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D, who herself is a voice hearer. She developed this curriculum as part of her work with the National Empowerment Center. This training helps to increase understanding of-and empathy for- the day-to-day challenges facing people with psychiatric disabilities.

Hearing Voices That Are Distressing is a training in which participants use headphones for listening to a specially designed recording. During this training, participants will go through a simulation of what is commonly referred to as auditory hallucinations, which can occur in such illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. During this simulated experience of hearing voices, participants undertake a series of tasks including social interaction in the community, a psychiatric interview, cognitive testing, and an activities group in a mock day treatment program. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period. The curriculum also includes a one hour recorded lecture.

This curriculum has been developed and piloted for a wide range of mental health professionals including: Inpatient/outpatient psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, social workers; psychologists; direct care workers in residential, day treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation programs; mental health administrators, policy makers; and police officers, academic faculty. family members and students.

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