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Upstate AHEC Employees Earn Mental Health First Aid Certifications

Upstate AHEC Continuing Professional Development
Coordinator Lauren Taylor with Mental Health First Aid
Instructors Krissi Raines and Brittany Alga
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a globally recognized program that originated in Australia in 2001. Participants can become certified in youth or adult MHFA through an eight-hour course in which they learn skills to help someone with a mental illness or someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Trained first-aiders are then able to use skills and techniques learned during the training to provide aid to someone in need until appropriate professional treatment and support can be arranged.

Adults spend roughly a third of their adult lives working, and having employees complete a program like MHFA can be essential in creating a mentally healthy workplace in which individuals feel valued, supported and respected. Many workplaces have an automated external defibrillator (AED) and have trained their staff on how to use it properly. Staff generally know when and how to summon emergency help for a physical ailment. However, they are actually more likely to come in contact with someone having a mental health crisis than they are someone having a heart attack.

While Upstate AHEC has supported MHFA programs in rural communities of the upstate, recently Upstate AHEC staff members recognized the importance of this skillset by participating in the training program themselves. Now team members can use the skills they learned through MHFA both in and outside the workplace. After completing the trainings, Upstate AHEC staff reported an increased confidence in assisting someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Staff members have also found strategies learned in the MHFA programs useful in dealing with their own personal emotions and challenges as well.

I am pleased that Upstate AHEC’s staff had the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aid certified by taking advantage of our continuing professional development team’s Mental Health First Aid courses,” explained Upstate AHEC executive director Nita Donald. “The Mental Health First Aid training courses teach participants to be aware and notice signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders.”

More information about Mental Health First Aid is available online. Information about other upcoming continuing professional development courses is available on the Upstate AHEC website.

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