CPR. We’re all aware of this vital, life-saving technique. It is a training many of us have learned at some point in life – in Boy Scouts, after school programs or first aid training because it is a simple way to potentially save someone’s life. But, what if there was a health issue that affected more people than heart attacks and only 1 million people across the United States knew how to save someone from it?
Mental illness affects more than 43.8 million adults. That number continues to grow, creating a significant need to prepare individuals to know how to help in mental health emergencies. Managed and operated by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
Individuals are taught how to apply the 5-step action plan ALGEE (Assess, Listen, Give information, Encourage self-help and Encourage professional help) in a variety of situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual who has overdosed.
Netsmart associates Julie Hiett and Tricia Zerger went one step further and recently completed training to become certified MHFA instructors where they underwent vigorous training with others from around the country. They attributed their interest in becoming instructors to their passion for serving others.
“Julie and I both earned our post-graduate degrees in the field,” said Tricia. “Similar to a lot of people, we know someone whose lives have been impacted by mental illness. The long week of training was definitely worth it, not only because of our passion for reducing the stigma, but also our mission to certify Netsmart associates, our community and the clients we serve.”
Netsmart began offering the MHFA program to associates in July 2016 and has presented 13 training sessions to nearly 300 associates. Netsmart’s goal is to have 90% of all associates certified. Julie and Tricia will join the other trainers in the Kansas City area to lead classes for associates and local companies.
“Netsmart is the largest healthcare IT provider solely focused on integrating behavioral health and post-acute care with the rest of healthcare and by going through this training to educate our associates, it just shows that we are talking the talk and walking the walk,” said Julie. “We’re committed to investing in our associates and by giving them the opportunity to learn about mental health, they have a better understanding of the environment in which our clients work.”
Netsmart is offering MHFA training to other Kansas City companies that are interested. Contact Ali Thabuteau for more information.
“If one person feels better about the process and can educate or assist someone with lessons from MHFA, then going through the training is 100 percent worth it,” said Julie.
To learn more about the Mental Health First Aid initiative, please visit the Mental Health First Aid website.