Senate Aids to Learn Mental Health First Aid

Senate Aids to Learn Mental Health First Aid

Columbus -

The aides of the Ohio Senate offices are getting training in administering first aid for mental health throughout the month of November.

The training, a joint initiative between Prevention Action Alliance, the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation will bring the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program to people who answer the phones and interact with the public at the Ohio Senate. Training sessions are being offered on the 1st, 15th and 22nd of November.

About one in five U.S. adults will experience a mental illness in any given year, and it’s highly likely that those who contact the Ohio Senate may need immediate or professional help. By training Senate aides in MHFA, they’ll be better able to help Ohioans in need and will also have the tools to help themselves and each other.

“Many people recognize the value of being trained in CPR, yet most never need to utilize that training,” said Stacey Logwood, director of school and community-based prevention for Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan & Champaign Counties. “It is far more likely that individuals will come in contact with friends, family members, and the public who may be suffering from a mental health or substance use emergency when compared to a physical health emergency. Mental Health First Aid provides attendees the skills to identify an emerging mental health crisis, empowerment to act compassionately, and steps to intervene until the crisis resolves or additional support or help arrive.” 

According to Mental Health First Aid USA, MHFA is an 8-hour course that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Like first aid, it provides the skills needed to support someone in a crisis or developing a mental health or substance use problem until specialized care is available. And like first aid, MHFA gives participants the skills and confidence they need to talk about mental health with those who might need help.

“If everyone received Mental Health First Aid—and we believe everyone should get this training—our overall mental health would be better,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Prevention Action Alliance. “More people would be able to get connected to the services they need and fewer people would suffer in silence from diseases that are all too often stigmatized.”

“By participating in Mental Health First Aid the Ohio legislative body is showing how much they care about the people they represent,” said Robin Oates, a prevention specialist, who is a community member with the Hardin County Community Coalition to Prevent Youth Substance Abuse. “They will have the knowledge to help should they encounter someone with a mental health challenge. Ohio has the capacity to change how we as a society look at those with mental health challenges and how we can be helpful and mindful to those around us.”

Prevention Action Alliance, the Hardin County Community Coalition to Prevent Youth Substance Abuse and the Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties brought MHFA training to the Ohio Senate to give the aides there the skills they need to help Ohioans who call and may need immediate aid or referral to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

Taylor Phillips, a senior legislative aide to State Senator Nickie J. Antonio of the 23rd Senate District, is looking forward to participating in the Mental Health First Aid training.

“As one of the first points of contact for our office, some constituents who call us are frustrated,” Taylor said. “They could be losing their health benefits or may be having the worst day of their lives. It is critical for all public servants to be able to communicate with compassion and know how to intervene if necessary. I encourage all of my colleagues to participate in this meaningful training.”

The organizations coordinating these trainings are also planning to offer MHFA or a similar training to staff at the Ohio House of Representatives as well as the Senators and Representatives themselves.

Mental Health First Aid has been proven to:

  • Improve participants’ knowledge of mental health and addiction signs, symptoms, and risk factors.
  • Give participants’ multiple professional and self-help resources for people with a mental illness or addiction.
  • Increase participants’ confidence in and likelihood to help someone in distress.
  • Help participants’ mental wellness themselves.

About Prevention Action Alliance

Prevention Action Alliance is a nonprofit based in Columbus, Ohio, that is dedicated to leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. To accomplish its mission, the Prevention Action Alliance helps everyone to play their role in prevention.

About the Hardin County Community Coalition to Prevent Youth Substance Abuse

The Hardin County Community Coalition to Prevent Youth Substance Abuse (the Coalition) was born out of the Strategic Prevention Framework-Partnership for Success grant received by Prevention Awareness Support Services, formerly Prevention for Violence Free Families, in 2016. The Coalition strives to assist the community in addressing issues related to youth substance abuse through education and advocacy. The Coalition understands that there are many issues which affect substance abuse including mental health. Therefore, the Coalition has championed the implementation of Mental Health First Aid training throughout the community as a main prevention and intervention strategy.

About the Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties

The Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties is created under the authority of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio by Amended Substitute House Bill 317 of the Ohio Revised Code. The purposes of the Board as defined in the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 340, and Amended Substitute House Bill 317 is to plan, fund, and evaluate alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health treatment, prevention, education, and consultation services for Logan and Champaign County residents in accordance with Ohio Revised Code and the rules and regulations established by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

About the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation is an Ohio 501c3 not-for-profit organization that works to bring about changes in attitudes and perceptions surrounding suicide and its relationship to mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, and other issues. We believe suicide is a preventable public health issue, and act as a catalyst for and steward of suicide prevention activities across the state.