If someone were having a panic attack, delusions, suicidal thoughts or an overdose from alcohol or drugs in front of you, would you know what to do?
Mental Health First Aid, offered by the National Council for Behavioral Health, is being offered to OSU Extension staff statewide. The goal is to help people gain the skills needed to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance/opioid abuse challenges and crises.
OSU Extension professionals are in all 88 Ohio counties. Therefore, it is invaluable to arm them with the ability to respond to a mental health or substance abuse crisis, said Roger Rennekamp, director of OSU Extension.
Mental Health First Aid trains people to detect the early warning signs of a mental health crisis, including training them to know when to make referrals for resources to help.
“The training is designed to help agency professionals and community members spot warning signs of mental illnesses and make appropriate referrals for assistance,” he said. “It provides us with helpful ways to respond to a mental health or opioid crisis, including how and when to offer help and where to go for assistance.”
More community-based organizations like OSU Extension are now taking part in mental health training across the country. Already, more than 1 million people nationwide have undergone the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Mental Health First Aid training.
With an office located in every county, OSU Extension is uniquely positioned to address the relationship between mental health disorders and the prevention of opioid abuse in Ohio.
Everyone from nurses and leaders in faith communities, to teachers and emergency medical technicians, to faculty and staff at colleges and universities, to correction officers and police officers have undergone the training, according to Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization.
“We believe every American could benefit from this training, and we vow to work hard to spread the word until Mental Health First Aid is as common as CPR,” she said in a written statement.
For OSU Extension staff, Mental Health First Aid certification is a natural outgrowth of the organization’s landgrant mission to provide outreach and education for Ohioans.
“OSU Extension’s broad range of programs and activities has the ability to reach many different individuals, groups and organizations statewide,” Rennekamp said, noting that OSU Extension is a “conduit to the community from the broader expertise of the university.”
“With an office located in every county, OSU Extension is uniquely positioned to address the relationship between mental health disorders and the prevention of opioid abuse in Ohio.”
It’s like CPR, a basic first aid class to learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health problem or substance abuse crisis. This training teaches you how to stand in the gap until the appropriate help can arrive
The adult course offers insight into several mental health disorders: depression, anxiety/ trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, substance abuse disorders, and selfinjury. In addition to the mental health disorders covered by the adult course, the youth course includes insight into adolescent development and mental health, said Jami Dellifield, an OSU Extension educator who has undergone the certification and is now a certified instructor.
The certification includes the ALGEE method, a five-step, triage-style response plan for nonprofessionals. It teaches people to assess for risk of suicide or harm; listen nonjudgmentally; give reassurance and information; encourage appropriate professional help; and encourage selfhelp and other support strategies.
“It’s like CPR, a basic first aid class to learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health problem or substance abuse crisis,” she said. “This training teaches you how to stand in the gap until the appropriate help can arrive.”
The training for OSU Extension staff is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rennekamp said.