Wyandot, Inc. is the non-profit parent of a family of four non-profit organizations serving Wyandotte County and surrounding communities: Wyandot Center, Wyandotte County’s designated community mental health center serving adults; PACES, addressing emotional and behavioral health issues of children, adolescents and families; Kim Wilson Housing, identifying creative solutions for housing needs of our consumers; and RSI, providing 24/7 crisis stabilization services for adults experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse crises. Wyandot, Inc.’s family of agencies dates its founding to 1953. Wyandot, Inc. was separately incorporated and began to function as the parent organization in 2010. Wyandot, Inc.’s core mission is to help consumers and families who are living with mental illness find hope and recovery through treatment and services we provide and in collaboration with community partners.
Wyandot, Inc. will use money from the B4B 2016 grant to provide scholarships to those that want to attend Mental Health First Aid Training, which would otherwise have a price of $40 per participant. The scholarships would go to those interested in the course that are unable to afford the fee.
Mental Health First Aid training
In addition, through the years, our organization has been involved in education and training to heighten awareness of mental illness and dispel the stigma associated with it. One way to address that stigma, and promote and foster early intervention, is to equip the general public with basic mental health literacy. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) does just that.
MHFA is an evidence-based public education program designed to help people respond to mental health crises with the same degree of confidence and skill as people trained in CPR or basic first aid do when encountering physical health crises and without requiring clinical expertise. MHFA improves understanding and provides an action plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental illness or substance use disorder.
This program began in Australia in 2001 and has expanded worldwide. Introduced to the United States in 2008, MHFA USA is managed, operated and disseminated by the National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health Association of Maryland and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. This 8-hour course teaches persons how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training provides the skills individuals need to reach out and provide initial help, support to someone who may be developing mental health or substance use problems or experiencing a crisis, and inform them of helpful resources.
Two curricula are available: one to help participants work with adults and one for youth. Youth MHFA is primarily designed for adults who work with young people between 12 and 18 years. Modules have been adapted for higher education, older adults, veterans and public safety.
The course addresses mental health issues including suicidal behaviors, anxiety, depression, psychoses, mood disorders, substance abuse and non-suicidal self-injury. The curriculum is designed for clinicians and lay people to teach the course, in the same way that first aid courses do not require instructors to have clinical experience. Each instructor must pass a 5-day training course before receiving certification to teach MHFA and teach three courses annually to maintain certification.
The national model for teaching MHFA includes a process for evaluating participants’ knowledge and for evaluating the effectiveness of the instructors. Participants complete course evaluations and tests designed to assess their grasp of basic mental health issues, their familiarity with signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, their comfort with discussing the topics of mental disorders, and their confidence in providing help to others. (Content adapted and/or excerpted from MHFA website; for more information: http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.)