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Mental Health First Aid: NACHC and Americares Award Training Scholarships

Jedidiah Barton is NACHC’s Partnership Development and Management Specialist.

As part of their integrated health care model, most Community Health Centers have long provided behavioral health care services in addition to traditional medical care. In recent years, the demand for these services has only grown. Through a partnership, NACHC is helping health centers to expand their support for communities’ mental well-being through training in “mental health first aid.”

Recently, in partnership with Americares, a global nonprofit focused on health and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, NACHC selected seven of our Organizational Member Health Centers and one Primary Care Association (PCA) to receive scholarships to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor courses.

We are currently accepting applications for another round of scholarships. View application and apply by April 15, 2022.

Training Equips People to Respond During a Mental Health Crisis

Mental Health First Aid, a program of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, helps teach non-clinical laypersons to identify and intervene in signs of mental illness, substance use, or during a crisis. The goal is that MHFA would be as common as CPR certification.

The scholarships allow one staff member from each of the eight organizations to become a certified MHFA Instructor. Instructors go on to host at least three MHFA courses per year. Courses are for health center staff, patients, board members, neighbors, faith leaders, local officials, and many others.

Health Centers Anticipate MHFA Instructors Will Amplify Their Impact

Laura Spadaro, Vice President of Primary Care and Public Health Policy at The Wright Center, one of the winners, told NACHC how the MHFA Instructor will help the health center:

“At The Wright Center, we offer a wide range of mental and behavioral health services for children, adolescents and adults facing a range of mental health issues. Equipping our community with the tools they need to recognize and respond to signs of mental health and substance use disorders will decrease stigma, empower individuals to seek help, and increase staff, residents, fellows, and community members’ ability to help others who may be experiencing a behavioral health issue. We are optimistic that expanding behavioral health education in our community will help get individuals connected to the services they need, decrease morbidity and mortality due to mental health and substance use disorders, and ultimately enhance our mission of improving the health and welfare of our community.”

NACHC asked Rhonda Hauff, CEO of Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, another winner, what their agency was most excited about pertaining to this award:

“We recently hired a JEDI (Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion) Manager at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services.  Our goal is to be as welcoming an organization as possible – for our diverse populations of patients, staff, and our community. With 320+ employees in 10 different primary care sites, along with 90 units of supportive housing and medical respite care, there isn’t a single staff person who won’t benefit from MHFA training. Our JEDI Manager will incorporate these tools into our orientation process as well as ongoing staff support and education. We are thrilled to bring this knowledge and leadership in-house!”

The train-the-trainer model amplifies the impact of the scholarships and reinforces Community Health Centers’ trusted role to care for whole communities including their mental wellbeing.

*Estimations based on each instructor holding three courses of 10 participants per year

Recent Winners Include Diverse Health Centers from Puerto Rico to Washington State

Congratulations to the recent winners:

  1. Bay Community Health (Maryland)
  2. Evara Health (Formerly, Community Health Centers of Pinellas) (Florida)
  3. Florida Primary Care Association, Inc. (Florida)
  4. La Clinica de La Raza, Inc. (California)
  5. Med Centro Healthcare System (Puerto Rico)
  6. The Wright Center for Community Health (Pennsylvania)
  7. Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. (Colorado)
  8. Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (Washington)

NACHC and Americares are thrilled to announce another round of awards. The application period is open from March 14-April 15, 2022.