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 DHS News January 2013

Mental Health First Aid

Starting in February, staff members in the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) will be offering Mental Health First Aid training to DHS staff. This training program is designed to teach those outside of the mental health field important skills to identify, understand and respond to those who have a mental illness or substance use disorder.

“With an estimated one in four people annually living with a mental illness, most people are touched by it in some way. These people aren’t just statistics; they are our friends, family members and neighbors,” said Mike Gruber, OBH system transformation coordinator , who will be conducting the trainings with Aurelia Carter-Scott, family support specialist, and Cecilia Reinheimer, acute consumer support planning coordinator.

Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour training that is very similar to first aid for medical emergencies: it teaches attendees how to preserve life, prevent future harm, promote recovery, and provide comfort and support. The training provides background information, resources, and concrete actions that anyone can use to address depression, anxiety disorders, psychoses, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and mental health crises.

“There is a lot of stigma directed at people with mental illness, and we are excited to use this training as a way to dispel myths and empower people to make a difference,” said Aurelia. “While attendees may not leave the training as experts in mental health, they will have the skills needed to be a better resource to, and supporter of, those who are in need.”

In addition to providing the Mental Health First Aid training to staff members, OBH is working with Allegheny Health Choices to form a collaborative to support this training in the general community. The Collaborative will soon be offering the training to faith communities, schools, colleges and other local organizations.

For more information about Mental Health First Aid, please visit the national website or contact Mike Gruber at Michael.Gruber@AlleghenyCounty.US or 412-350-4271.  

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