Emergency rooms in the Finger Lakes region saw an uptick in mental health visits and a dramatic increase in heroin overdoses from 2013 to 2014, according to Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency’s 2016 Community Health Assessment.
To address such disturbing behavioral health trends, FLHSA is offering Mental Health First Aid Training to care managers in its practice transformation initiative. The free two-day course prepares clinicians to “recognize the signs, symptoms and risk factors” for mental illness, said trainer Jay Roscup, grants administrator for Eastern Wayne County schools.
“It provides an action plan for people to use to help people experiencing a crisis or developing mental health problems,” said Roscup.
Funded through the Wayne County Rural Health Network, the evidence-based certification builds on the agency's efforts to help the Finger Lakes region integrate behavioral health into primary care.
In addition to health care professionals, the training has been given to representatives of law enforcement, education, human services fields, community members and youth workers. The course covers depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis and substance use disorders.
“People who take the course usually indicate more confidence in helping people experiencing mental health issues, less stigma and more awareness,” Roscup said.
Responders are taught to assess for risk of suicide or harm, listen nonjudgmentally and give reassurance and information. They learn to encourage others to seek appropriate professional treatment and to take advantage of self-help resources.
Roscup said he originally had worked with at-risk teens and helped some of them when they were experiencing mental health crisis and developing mental health issues.
“Looking back, I wish I’d had this training a couple decades ago when I first started helping kids,” Roscup said.
A complete list of mental health first aid trainers is available at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.