Western Wisconsin Health Begins Training for Mental Health First Aid

Western Wisconsin Health is pleased to have been involved in the planning, funding, and implementation of bringing Mental Health First Aid Training to our region. This is a collaboration with many community partners through Healthier Together Pierce-St. Croix Counties; partners include United Way St. Croix Valley, St. Croix County Public Health, YMCA St. Croix Valley, River Falls Hospital- part of Allina Health, Westfields Hospital and Clinic- HealthPartners, Amery Hospital and Clinic- HealthPartners, and Hudson Hospital and Clinic- Health Partners.

Mental Health First Aid gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as CPR training helps a person with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a person assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives.

The first training session had 30 skilled trainer candidates from various backgrounds participate in a week long MHFA train-the-trainer course last week who are now trained to provide the 8-hour MHFA course to employees and the public. From Western Wisconsin Health, Angela Branum and Lindsey Greer were among those that completed the initial training.

“Mental Health First Aid is a great way for professionals and community members alike to gain the knowledge needed to identify and assist our friends, family members, neighbors, and even strangers who may be experiencing mental health symptoms or crisis,” said Lindsey Greer, Social Services Manager at WW Health. “Mental Health First Aid strives to reduce the stigma related to these symptoms by increasing our awareness of the prevalence of mental health disorders and by providing evidence based education about the signs and symptoms. Mental Health First Aid trainers are taught to compassionately assist those around them in connecting with the supports and services needed to begin the process of recovery.”

Staff from specific departments throughout Western Wisconsin Health will be trained in MHFA over the course of the next 2 years. Training will also be happening in school districts, faith communities, businesses and organizations, and for the community at-large in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties over the next 2 years as part of Healthier Together’s Community Health Improvement Plan strategy to improve mental health in our region.

“Even without a clinical background, any person can take this information and apply it to anyone they encounter that is showing signs of mental health issues or a mental health crisis, said Angela Branum, Organizational Learning and Development Coordinator at WW Health. “The information will be invaluable to the staff at Western Wisconsin Health and the community!”

For more information about Behavioral Health services at WW Health and local mental health resources, please visit wwhealth.org.