Mental Health First Aid
Mental health is often a community effort. Madison Valley Medical Center organized an eight-hour mental health first aid training for the public Feb. 3-4. Community members who are often first contacts for those needing mental or behavioral health care learned how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. “The mix between lectures and activities helped bring the concepts home,” one participant Dawn Conklin said. “There’s a part of it that touched your heart.” Grant money from Montana Office of Rural Health Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training made the program available to MVMC. The class of about 15 community members, ranging from pastors to counselors, started the training with a true or false worksheet. Each participant determined privately whether the statements on mental and behavioral health were true or false. Most were surprised about their prior misconceptions at the end of the training. “You first have to evaluate how you feel and think about it,” MVMC nurse Kilie Dickerson said. The training aimed to break down the barriers and perceptions of mental and behavioral health, before informing participants how to provide initial support to someone. It also informed participants on the resources available in the area. The Ennis Pharmacy provided lunch, Madison Valley Bank provided space, MVMC organized the event and The Montana Hospital Association’s Health Research and Education Foundation’s Flex Program and North Central and South Central Area Health Education Centers provided the training.