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News and Information
June 5, 2017
CHI Franciscan Health on Track to Train 1,000 Pierce County Residents in Mental Health First Aid
What if mental health crisis training was as commonplace as a CPR class at your local library? That’s the goal of CHI Franciscan Health and community partners across Pierce County. For the last year, CHI Franciscan Health’s Prevent-Avert-Respond (PAR) Mental Health Initiative has spearheaded a series of Mental Health First Aid classes that will train 1,000 professionals and residents by summer.
Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour, evidence-based training that teaches common warning signs of mental health problems. Using role-playing and simulations, it gives trainees the skills to provide immediate help to someone who is developing a mental health problem, or in a mental crisis such as suicidal thoughts. The evidence behind the program demonstrates it builds mental health literacy, increases confidence in helping an individual in distress, and reduces social distance caused by stigma.
"CHI Franciscan Health’s Prevent-Avert-Respond (PAR) Initiative aims to reduce mental crises in Pierce County,” said Monet Craton, Director of the initiative. “Mental Health First Aid is a vital strategy in our approach, because the training empowers community members to recognize and respond to mental health problems before they escalate to crises.”
Mental health problems can affect anyone. A 2003 University of Washington study revealed 189,070 cases of serious mental illness among Washington State Adults, which represented 4.33 percent of the total adult population. In Pierce County, it was estimated that 4.5 percent of the population, or 22,790 people, experienced a serious mental health issue. Many more people experience a mental health problem at some point in their life; research shows this is one out of five people. Pierce County has a higher suicide rate than Washington State, with 144 deaths from suicide in 2015. In the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, 22% of Pierce County 10th graders reported considering suicide, and 11% reported suicide attempts.
Mental Health First Aid is taught by Instructors who have committed to providing at least three trainings per year in Pierce County. Sponsored by the PAR Initiative, 29 individuals completed five-day Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training and are now teaching the course at local organizations and groups who are most likely to interact with persons with mental health problems.
“As a psychologist I know firsthand how important it is to identify the early signs of a serious mental health issue,” said Karen Hye, a CHI Franciscan Health Psychologist and Mental Health First Aid Instructor. “Mental Health First Aid is not meant to take the place of a trained professional. Rather, the course teaches regular people to identify the signs of a crisis and give them tools that can help stabilize an individual in crisis and connect them to appropriate care and support.”
Mental Health First Aid Instructors are training dozens of organizations and groups, such as Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources, Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound, Tacoma Urban League, Pierce College, and the DSHS Special Corrections Center.
“Our Human Services staff is on the frontline every day helping the most vulnerable in society,” said Peter Ansara, Director, Pierce County Human Services. “In partnership with CHI Franciscan Health’s Prevent-Avert-Respond (PAR) Initiative, we are providing Mental Health First Aid training to nearly 225 staff members. The training will equip our team with tools to help identify and provide aid to individuals experiencing behavioral health issues.”
Mental Health First Aid trainings are planned for Pierce County through June of 2019. Courses offer practical information and response skills that are valuable for everyone, especially anyone who often interacts with persons in emotional distress or mental crisis. Individuals interested in joining a free training can search online for nearby classes at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs/take-a-course/find-a-course/.
Organizations interested in hosting a Mental Health First Aid training for their employees or members can contact Monet Craton at email@example.com.
About CHI Franciscan Health
CHI Franciscan Health is a nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, Washington with $2.6 billion in net revenue and a team of nearly 12,000 doctors, nurses and staff that provide expert, compassionate medical care at eight acute care hospitals and approximately 200 primary and specialty care clinics in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties. This includes St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton and Silverdale; Highline Medical Center, Burien; and Regional Hospital, Burien. Started in 1891 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, today CHI Franciscan Health is one of the largest health systems in Washington state. The system spans more than 1,100 acute care beds, a credentialed medical staff of more than 1,500 including more than 800 employed physicians providing specialties in cardiovascular care, cancer care, orthopedics and sports medicine, neurosciences and women’s care. CHI Franciscan’s mission focuses on creating healthier communities, including caring for the poor and underserved. In 2015, the organization provided $141 million in community benefit, including $10 million in charity care.
About The PAR Mental Health Initiative
The Prevent-Avert-Respond (PAR) Mental Health Initiative is a comprehensive, community-based approach to reduce mental health crises in Pierce County. In collaboration with local and state partners, the initiative is building individuals’, professionals’, and organizations’ ability to identify mental health problems before they reach crisis stage; encourage and expedite help-seeking; and facilitate excellent assistance to persons in crisis. The initiative will run through June 2019, supported by grant funding from Catholic Health Initiatives and the Franciscan Foundation, and community partners’ contributions.