MHFA introduced in AshevilleMental health literacy program to certify more than 30 instructors in WNC
The Smoky Mountain Center, in collaboration with the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and Western North Carolina Health Network, is pleased to add up to 30 new instructors to the Mental Health First Aid team in a training session March 3-7 at the MAHEC Mary C. Nesbit Biltmore Campus.
The MHFA training course is designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Through this program, conducted by the National Council for Behavioral Health, new instructors will be certified to teach the 8-hour course to a variety of audiences. MHFA is one of several evidence-based programs Smoky Mountain Center provides to the community. The program is intended to identify opportunities for early intervention for individuals experiencing mental health concerns.
“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our Western North Carolina communities,” said Elizabeth Flemming, MA, LPC, continuing education planner at MAHEC. “Most people know how to recognize and appropriately react to medical emergencies, but there is little knowledge in the general public about what to do in a mental health crisis.”
“I’d like to see people as familiar with MHFA as they are with CPR,” states Carolyn Dorner, quality coordinator at WNC Health Network. “We need to know how to respond when our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors need help.”
More than 3,700 U.S. instructors are already certified by Mental Health First Aid USA (MHFA-USA) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, including behavioral healthcare, law enforcement and public safety, universities, faith communities and primary care. Included on SAMHSA’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 towards 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.
Smoky Mountain Center manages mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disability services in Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties in North Carolina. Access to services is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-849-6127.