For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — To address a critical shortage of experts prepared to handle mental health challenges in rural Wisconsin, Security Health Plan of Wisconsin Inc. announced a training collaboration with Mental Health First Aid on Aug. 12.
Security Health Plan’s Community Benefits Program will invest in training for 30 Mental Health First Aid instructors. Once these instructors have completed their week-long training program, they will be certified to offer Mental Health First Aid training classes in their home communities. As part of the agreement with Security Health Plan, after they receive certification, the instructors will teach at least three Mental Health First Aid courses in their home communities.
The instructor training program will take place Oct. 12-16 in Marshfield. Security Health Plan is accepting applications for those interested in attending this training. Complete information is available at securityhealth.org/communitygiving.
“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to communities in our service area,” said Dr. Mark LePage, Security Health Plan chief medical officer. “Most people know how to recognize and appropriately react to medical emergencies, but there is little knowledge in the general public about how to respond to signs of mental health conditions.”
Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help adults who are developing a mental health condition or experiencing a mental health crisis. Instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, including behavioral health care, law enforcement and public safety, universities, faith communities, and health care.
The instructor certification training is conducted by the National Council, which manages the program in the U.S. along with the states of Maryland and Missouri.
“We’re enthused to welcome Security Health Plan as a partner in extending mental health first aid across the country” says Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “We anticipate the new instructors will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout Wisconsin and will be key players in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”
The new instructors will join more than 3,700 instructors already certified throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices. Studies show that training in Mental Health First Aid builds confidence in helping an individual experiencing a mental health challenge, reduces negative or distancing attitudes toward individuals with mental illnesses, and increases mental health literacy — being able to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
“When we recently surveyed health departments in our 32-county service area, 91 percent identified behavioral health as one of their top three community health priorities,” said Jay Shrader, director of Disease Management and Wellness for Security Health Plan. “Once they have completed the certification course, these 30 new instructors will return to their home communities and teach the Mental Health First Aid curriculum. This is a way Security Health Plan is making a positive difference in the health and lives of the people and communities we call home.”