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Mental Health First Aid Program: Spreading Mental Health Awareness to the Masses

On September 18, 2021 Dr. Kedrick Williams, Community Resource and Assessment Specialist, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (The Center) and Dr. Sharon Jones, Certified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor, hosted the second virtual MHFA training session for Sumter County. This interactive course was attended by 14 participants comprised of Phoebe Sumter Medical Center team members, leaders of local churches, high school students, and community members. MHFA training addresses several Grand Challenges of Rural Health including Mental Health, Health Literacy, and Substance Abuse by teaching participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. This training gives participants the skills needed to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and connect them to appropriate care.

At the conclusion of this session, participants shared “I feel great and more knowledgeable about MHFA”; “[I am] Feeling good, hopeful”; and “[I am] encouraged”. One participant even asked “How can I get more individuals in my community [to get trained]?” Another participant shared “the most relevant thing I learned in today’s course is to learn to listen more effectively.”

The Center provides this training to partnering agencies in rural Georgia free of charge.  The next virtual MHFA training course is scheduled for late November 2021. If your community is interested in hosting this course, please visit Mental Health First Aid | Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center for more information and registration.