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Just as CPR and first aid are intended to help an injured person before proper medical treatment can be provided and are performed by a non-medical professional, Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach the public key skills to help someone developing a mental health problem or crisis.
Mental Health First Aid was first introduced in the United States by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, which currently manages the program in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Mental Health First Aid is important because it educates the broader community about mental health problems and associated symptoms. The general lack of understanding in today’s society promotes negative stereotypes and prevents people from obtaining early and appropriate help.
Integral Care is proud to offer both the Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid training courses to the Austin Travis County community. The Adult MHFA curriculum teaches participants how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis. The Youth MHFA curriculum's focus is on teaching participants how to help an adolescent/transition youth (ages 12-18 & 18-25) who may be in the early stages of a mental health problem or crisis. Youth MHFA participants are adults who primarily interact with youth, such as parents, teachers, sports coaches, and youth workers.
These public education programs provide information that will help participants identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and chemical dependency disorders. Training is offered as an interactive 8-hour course on the following:
Participants who complete the 8-hour certification course learn a five-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.
Since Integral Care began providing Mental Health First Aid trainings in 2009, it has certified more than 800 key professionals and members of the community, including: school personnel, educators, nurses, primary care professionals, emergency department social workers, security personnel, City of Austin library staff, direct service staff in behavioral health care settings, supportive housing personnel, volunteers and the general public.
As a public education program, Mental Health First Aid has the potential to educate communities, improve mental health literacy and empower individuals.
Since its inception at the University of Melbourne in 2001, the program has undergone several studies to indicate Mental Health First Aid’s effectiveness in Australia. Major findings of studies found that participants:
To read an article published by the Austin American-Statesman on Integral Care’s Mental Health First Aid program, click here.
To view the press release on 2013 Community Impact Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health, click here.