Women2Women - Spring 2018 - 42
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid is a best practice national model that
teaches people of all ages and walks of life how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use
disorders in our community.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based 8-hour
course that gives participants the skills to appropriately assist
someone who is developing a problem or experiencing a crisis.
There are several variations on the training, including for first
responders, educators, and faith-based organizations. The course
teaches the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental
health/substance use challenges commonly seen in community
settings. Participants do not learn to diagnose or treat the problem;
rather they learn a core five-step action plan to handle the situation.
In the Reading/Berks area, there has been significant interest
and emphasis on the Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)
version. Since 2014, Penn State Health St. Joseph (PSHSJ) has
provided leadership for this effort through their Downtown Campus
Langan Allied Health Academy and Community Health Worker
(CHW) Training Institute. In partnership with the East Central
PA Area Health Education Center and the Literacy Council of
Reading-Berks, PSHSJ has integrated YMHFA into the CHW
training curriculum and helped secure funding to offer free and
low-cost sessions to area professionals and the general public.
In 2017, 150,000 people across the country were trained in
Mental Health First Aid by the National Council for Behavioral
Health and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, and an
ambitious overall goal to train one million people was reached.
For more information, please visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
is the nation's largest grassroots mental health
organization dedicated to building better
lives for the millions of Americans affected
by mental illness.
What started as a small group of families
gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has
blossomed into the nation's leading voice on
mental health. Today, it is an association of
hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations
and volunteers who work in your community
to raise awareness and provide support and
education that was not previously available
to those in need.
NAMI promotes the interests of all those
affected by mental illness; the individual,
family, and friends, by providing educational
and support services.
A very important piece of the puzzle is "to
educate patients with mental illness ABOUT
42 Women2Women Spring 2018
mental illness," according to Richard Gardner,
President of NAMI Berks County.
Gardner stressed that mental illness is a
condition, not a disease. Those afflicted with
it need to understand it, as well as become
knowledgeable about resources and assistance
available to them.
NAMI offers recovery support groups for
adults with mental illness which offer respect,
understanding, encouragement and hope.
They also offer support groups for families
to help those who live with someone facing
mental health challenges.
Additionally, NAMI also has a service for
Veterans called Homefront which provides
free programs for families, caregivers and
friends of military service members with
mental health conditions.
Visit their website to learn more: