In response to recent shooting tragedies in the United States, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) has become a hot topic in Washington and Mississippi. In May, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health used British Petroleum grant monies to certify a cadre of trainers in both the adult and youth versions of MHFA. These certified trainers will be available to provide education through workshops to community leaders such as pastors, teachers, and civic groups, along with families and friends interested in learning more about mental health issues.
“With knowledge, comes understanding,” said Mardi Allen, DMH Clinical Services Liaison. “Communities that have a better understanding of mental health issues are shown to have less stigma around mental illness. Hopefully with more community understanding, those who suffer from mental illness will receive assistance and support they need rather than eschewed by our schools, churches and the general public.”
Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness, substance use disorders and behavioral disorders. Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the 12-hour course as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.
Both versions of MHFA includes content on how important it is to provide assistance to individuals with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-injury, and substance use disorders. In addition, participants learn to recognize and handle crisis situations such as suicidal behaviors, acute stress reaction following trauma, panic attack, acute psychotic behavior, and drug overdose.
For information on how to schedule a Mental Health First Aid training, contact Scott Sumrall at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health at 601-359-1288.