This summer, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health put out a call for volunteers. The purpose? To become certified as Mental Health First Aid instructors, who will then share what they’ve learned with others in the community.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a collection of skills to help a person who is either experiencing a mental health crisis or may be developing a behavioral health (mental health or substance use) problem.
It’s often easy to recognize when someone is experiencing a physical problem. But what do depression and anxiety look like? How would you respond when a person you know says they have suicidal thoughts? How can you help a friend experiencing a panic attack? MHFA equips a person with the abilities to respond to all of these situations.
MHFA instructors participate in a three-day, skills-based training course that teaches:
Risk factors and warning signs for mental health and substance use disorder concerns,
Strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations,
Where to refer residents for help, and
How to teach the MHFA course to a variety of audiences.
Once instructors are certified, they can teach a shortened, one-day course to anyone in the community. People who take the course leave with the knowledge and abilities to help assist a person experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. Through these community trainings, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health aims to both reduce the stigma associated with mental health and ensure that people get connected to the care they need.
Instructor candidates were asked to apply for the training by Sunday, October 4. Those selected will attend three full days of virtual “train the trainer” sessions in early November and will lead a minimum of three one-day Mental Health First Aid trainings for community members in Washtenaw County within one year of receiving their certification.
Washtenaw County Community Mental Health will help pair instructors with community groups to ensure that the training reaches a diverse, county-wide audience.