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Chester County C/FST team members (pictured left to right are Kelly Frizen, Ana O’Campo Gonzalez, Jane Rawlings, and Joan Martin) became certified in Mental Health First Aid on October 22nd. More than being an excellent ‘team’ day opportunity, the training provided C/FST with a simple model for use when encountering someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. The training is based on a curriculum first created in Australia, hence the cute koala often tossed around the room whose t-shirt advertises his name and the model for crisis response: A.L.G.E.E. The model was developed as part of a nation-wide effort to educate communities on mental illness and teach basic skills to respond to an individual in distress. The idea is to make the model as common place as CPR so that anyone feels comfortable with an approach to help a friend or stranger in mental distress. Chester County C/FST has interviewed over 900 people over the course of our 3 1/2 years in the County. In this work, we sometimes encounter people who may be in the midst of crisis or looking for resources for themselves or a family member. The Mental Health First Aid training provided an opportunity for discussion about mental illness, changing perspectives on mental illness to reduce stigma, and practice for the average person to calmly respond to a crisis event. The team all agreed it was a day well spent! Many thanks to the County and to presenters, both members of the Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force, Tracy Behringer and Carol Harkins.
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