Flagler County, FL – SMA Behavioral Healthcare is initiating the Mental Health First Aid program in Flagler County, joining a National Initiative to increase mental health literacy. Flagler County first responders and members of the public will be trained in this evidence based training to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.
Recently, Flagler County was one of only seven Florida Counties to be awarded a grant under DCF's Criminal Justice, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant program. The grant will provide funds to Flagler County over three years that in turn will fund the development at SMA of a Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit to provide services to Flagler residents who are involuntarily committed to mental health treatment under Florida's Baker Act. Additionally, the grant will provide funding for Crisis Intervention Team Training to law enforcement agencies in Flagler and Mental Health First Aid training for Flagler County residents.
“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Sini Summerlin, CIT Coordinator/
Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training certification course which teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual. The certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.
“We welcome SMA Behavioral Healthcare’s involvement and enthusiasm in the Mental Health First Aid community,” says Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, the organization who brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008. “We know they will have a great impact on the mental health communities throughout Flagler County, and will be key players in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”
Classes are scheduled to start in May and continue throughout the year, exact dates will be announced soon. In its pilot year, the program was introduced in nearly twenty states and more than 40 communities nationwide. The National Council certified Sini Summerlin of SMA Behavioral Healthcare, to provide the Mental Health First Aid program in January, 2011, through an instructor certification course in Dallas, Texas. SMA Behavioral Healthcare and all the sites across the nation that replicate this program maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.
SMA Behavioral Healthcare has been serving the northeast Florida community with mental health and drug treatment services for over 50 years. They operate 35 mental health and substance abuse programs, providing prevention, diversion, intervention, and treatment services, delivered to a diverse client population in a 4-county region (Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia). SMA’s St. Johns clinic provides outpatient mental health and addictions services to more than 1,000 residents annually.
SMA Behavioral Healthcare’s mission is to deliver exceptional and comprehensive behavioral healthcare to individuals and families in our community. Their vision is of a community where addiction and mental illness are treated promptly, comprehensively and with respect for all. They can be reached 800-539-4228 (tel:800-539-
Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in twenty other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.
For more information or to participate in a Mental Health First Aid training in Flagler County, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.smabehavioral.org
or email Sini Summerlin, MHFA contact at mhfa.volusiaflagler@
The National Council for Behavioral Health is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 2,000+ behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly seven million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.