ALGEE The KualaUtica, NY May 22nd, 2012 – Mental Health Connections has piloted the first Mental Health First Aid program in Mohawk Valley. Mental Health Connections will train any interested members of the public to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said John Creaser, Director of Mental Health Connections “This important educational effort goes a lot further than emergency intervention; it really helps people understand the shroud of fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction. It will help rid this community of the associated stigma and move more and more people toward recovery.” The course is designed for anyone who works with the public and might encounter someone experiencing a mental health crisis. It is not a treatment program, but offers the skills needed to effectively respond to a mental health situation that might occur in the teller line, the grocery store, or a co-worker at work.

Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour training certification course which teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual, the certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

“We welcome Mental Health Connections’ involvement and enthusiasm in the Mental Health First Aid community,” says Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the organization who brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008. “We know they will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout [area], and will be key players in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”

In its pilot year, the program was introduced in nearly twenty states and more than 40 communities nationwide. The National Council certified John Creaser, Director of Mental Health Connections to provide the Mental Health First Aid program in September, 2011 through an instructor certification course in Tampa, Florida. John is the only nationally-certified instructor in the Mohawk Valley region. Mental Health Connections and all the sites across the nation that replicate this program maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.

Mental Health First Aid is auspiced at the ORYGEN Research Centre at the University of Melbourne in Australia under the direction of MHFA founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in six other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

Classes are being assembled now for June, July and August. The cost is $45.00 per participant and includes all course materials. For more information or to participate in a Mental Health First Aid training in the Mohawk Valley e-mail johnc@htcorp.net or call him at 315-735-9501 x27 or 717-1182.

Mental Health Connections is a division of Human Technologies Corporation, Inc.

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.

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