In an effort to share potentially life-saving information with those who live and work in Paramus, the Paramus Stigma Free Zone is offering Mental Health First Aid as a community education program. Based on the award winning 8-hour certification course, it is designed to help individuals, groups, and communities better understand mental illness and respond to psychiatric emergencies. With the help of Care Plus NJ, Inc. (CarePlus), the Stigma Free Zone is making the training easily affordable and available to the public.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that “one in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year.”
Programs such as Mental Health First Aid are vital in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. The Stigma Free Zone, formed in mid-2013, has taken the stance that one of the best ways to remove stigma is to educate the community as a whole. Through raising awareness and starting healthy communication on mental health, they hope to increase the chances of an individual seeking treatment.
Mental Health First Aid is designed to engage participants in experimental activities to build an understanding and recognize the signs, symptoms, and impact of mental illness. Participants will learn a 5-step Action Plan that teaches how to assess, listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance, and encourage professional help. Included in the training are self-help strategies for someone experiencing mental health problems, how to approach someone in a mental health crisis, and an understanding of what to do if someone is feeling suicidal, harming themselves, or refusing help.
The Stigma Free Zone is excited to offer Mental Health First Aid at the community level in a more compact time format (a typical MHFA certification class is 8 hours). The training is suitable for parents, caregivers, law enforcement, fire fighters, first responders, teachers, school administrators, general college staff members, doctors, nurses, ER medical staff, caseworkers, support/welfare workers, human resource managers, department supervisors, community center groups, faith communities, and members of the general public who are interested in learning more about mental illness.
The course is being taught by Sue Heguy, LCSW, a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor from CarePlus. Sue has 16 years of experience in crisis outreach and trauma response services to both adults and youth. The Bergen County TLC Coordinator and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she is a trauma specialist at CarePlus where she treats children and families.
Mental Health First Aid is offered as a two-day, two-hour course with the next available dates on May 8th and 15th. The cost of the course is being offered at only $25 to expand community involvement, and is being held at the Paramus Community School at 145 Spring Valley Rd., Paramus, NJ.