Christian Steward and Phuong Tran are Community Connector Coordinators with CALC, a program of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment. Their work includes community engagement and coordination in the Northeast and Southwest neighborhoods of Denver. They selected to attend a Mental Health First Aid Training facilitated by the Mental Health Center of Denver on September 23, 2019.
Why take Mental First Aid Training?
Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches skills for how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training focuses on how to identify, understand and respond to signs of addiction and mental illness.
Why did we attend to this training? We are community connectors and often our work is impacted by mental health disorders. We are the intersection of community and health. We wanted to be aware of the obstacles our community members face. Our roles in the community is to meet people where they are at in the spectrum of life stages. One of the many barriers of active living is mental health disorders. We wanted to be comfortable to communicate effectively on the resources to combat this pervasive pandemic.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
Introduces risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems
Builds understanding of their impact
Overviews common treatment
Equips members of the public with the skills needed to help someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis
While we will not go into the specifics of the training we will highlight recurring themes in the training. One of those recurring themes is the mnemonic ALGEE, a device to help remember the key steps to bring awareness and aid to those experiencing a mental health problem. These steps are important to know when we are interacting with a person experiencing mental health.
What we plan to do with the Mental Health First Aid training:
As community connectors, we are now more equipped to recognize the symptoms of Mental Health Disorders and create pipelines to appropriate professionals and resources for the residents in the communities we work and serve in. For example, we interacted with a person who showed signs of her dealing with a mental health problem. We listened nonjudgmentally, gave her the space she needed, and encouraged self-help when she stated she needed to meditate.
We also plan to promote and advocate that more Denver residents enroll and become certified in types of trainings to better address the prevailing health and economic impacts of Mental Health Disorders. In addition to promoting and recruiting more English speaking residents, we intend to promote and recruit Spanish speaking residents to become certified through these trainings.