For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — Security Health Plan selected 20 area residents, who were trained as Mental Health First Aid instructors during a week-long course, which took place Oct. 12-16 in Marshfield.
The first class of instructors includes educators, emergency responders, social workers, and health care professionals. As part of their agreement with Security Health Plan, after receiving certification each instructor will teach at least three Mental Health First Aid courses in their home communities.
“We need only watch the evening news or read the morning headlines to know we need to do a better job identifying and helping someone who is facing a mental health crisis,” said Dr. Mark LePage, chief medical officer at Security Health Plan. “When it comes to a medical emergency, most people know what to do as a first response, but there is little knowledge in the general public about how to respond to the early signs of mental health crises.”
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. The instructor certification training is conducted by the National Council, which manages the program in the United States.
Communities represented in this instructor class include Barron County, Chippewa Falls, Ladysmith, Marshfield, Mattoon, Merrill, Spencer, Stevens Point, Tony, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids. The new instructors will join more than 3,700 already certified instructors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
“This training program is a step in the right direction. These 20 will return to their communities certified to teach the Mental Health First Aid course to others,” LePage added.
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 meet with health officials, they often identify behavioral health as one of their top community health priorities,” said Jay Shrader, director of disease management and wellness for Security Health Plan. “This instructor class includes an impressive cross-section of professional backgrounds who serve rural and urban communities. They will make their communities better prepared to recognize and respond to mental health crises.”