Mental Health First Aid Trainings Go Virtual!

During these turbulent times, finding new ways to support loved ones is vital. To continue providing training opportunities at a time when mental health support is more important than ever, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) has rolled out a selection of new remote training options. Now, instructors will once again be able to train new Mental Health “First Aiders” in their communities. Currently, virtual MHFA is an expanded pilot program and JFS has started offering both the Adult and Youth curriculums in a completely virtual classroom. The scheduled trainings take place July 22 (youth), August 3 (adult), August 19 (adult), August 26 (youth), September 2 (adult) and September 3 (youth) with more to come.

Past participants have said that the trainings help them to feel “more prepared with a better understanding of my role and boundaries” and “more competent about navigating a situation with someone experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.” Educators specifically have shared that they are “anticipating anxious students in the fall, and will most likely need this information to assist and support students in the new school year.” Additionally, attendees reported learning how to effectively de-escalate situations using more useful vocabulary, how to become better listeners and how to address potential suicidal behavior.

Why now?

Communities are struggling with high levels of emotional distress stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and they need “First Aiders” who are equipped to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and addiction issues. MHFA’s new materials—which pull from existing curriculum—include an expanded focus on trauma, wellness, resilience and self-care. The training will prepare First Aiders to support those struggling with crisis and non-crisis challenges.

How does it work?

The new virtual training options include a two-hour self-paced course followed by four and a half hours of content (youth curriculum) and six hours of content (adult curriculum) of instructor-led training. In order to provide adequate support to the attendees and maintain the efficacy and quality of the curriculum, each course will be led by one instructor and limited to 10 participants.

Who are the trainings for?

Adult: Open to anyone age 18+.

Youth: Open to anyone 18+ who regularly interacts with youth (ages 12-18).

Which materials will I receive once registered?

Upon completing registration, you will receive a digital download of a MHFA manual and participant processing guide (workbook).

To attend the instructor-led portion of the training, what are some logistics and requirements prospective Mental Health First Aiders should be aware of?

  • The ability to complete pre-requisites:With the virtual curriculum, attendees must complete two hours of pre-requisite work prior to attending the training. You will only be admitted into the virtual classroom once you complete your pre-requisites and the instructor of the training will confirm your status beforehand. The actual training day is a shorter time commitment due to the pre-requisite component of this class. You will receive a digital manual and participant processing guide to complete this portion of the training, and you will continue to use both resources for the day-of.
  • Technology: For both the pre-requisite work and the day-of training, you will need internet access and a computer. It’s important that the computer has a microphone and camera/video capabilities for the actual training.

Curriculum Descriptions

Adult: The first half of the course focuses on teaching signs and symptoms in the context of feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and appearances. The second half of the course focuses on skill development and application. First Aiders will have the opportunity to decrease stigma around mental illness and substance use, increase mental health literacy, increase self-confidence to support someone experiencing a crisis or non-crisis situation, and provide them with resources.

Youth: First Aiders will have the opportunity to decrease stigma around mental illness and substance use, increase mental health literacy when working with young people, and serve as an important link between youth and appropriate professional help. Participants will also learn how to recognize when a youth (ages 12-18) may be experiencing a mental health challenge, addiction challenge or is in crisis. New topics for this training include the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the impact of violence and bullying at school, and the impact of social media on youth mental health. In addition, the training will include an explanation of how risk and protective factors influence adolescent development, including the impact of trauma and how First Aiders can promote youth resilience.

To sign up for a training, please note these upcoming dates: July 22 (youth), August 3 (adult), August 19 (adult), August 26 (youth), September 2 (adult)  and September 3 (youth). You can also visit our website calendar for the most up-to-date information. 

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