ECMH trains volunteers in mental health ‘first aid’

Published 5:47 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

East Central Mental Health is initiating the Mental Health First Aid program in Pike County.

East Central is training15 professionals, including members of the Pike County Chaplains Association, an athletic trainer, volunteer firefighters and members of the public to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Teresa Kidd, parent coordinator and Mental Health First Aid trainer, for East Central Mental Health. “This important educational effort goes a lot further than emergency intervention; it really helps people understand the shroud of fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction. It will help rid this community of the associated stigma and move more and more people toward recovery.”

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Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training certification course which teaches participants 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. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

“We welcome East Central’s involvement and enthusiasm in the Mental Health First Aid community,” says Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, the organization who brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008.

“We know they will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout Pike County, and will be key players in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”

In its pilot year, the program was introduced in nearly 20 states and more than 40 communities nationwide. The National Council certified Kidd to provide the Mental Health First Aid program in August 2013, through an instructor certification course in Montgomery. East Central Mental Health and all the sites across the nation that replicate this program maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in twenty other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

For more information or to participate in a Mental Health First Aid training in Pike, Macon or Bullock County, call East Central Mental Health, Teresa Kidd at (334) 808-2874 or (334) 372-2350.