Ohio University

OHIO Eastern Hosts First Aid Mental Health Training

Ohio University Eastern in collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Wheeling and the Mental Health and Recovery Board serving Belmont, Harrison, and Monroe counties, provided a virtual Adult Mental Health First Aid training for OHIO Eastern students, faculty and staff on Friday March 12.  Julie Gomez, Executive Director of NAMI Greater Wheeling instructed the evidence-based program training.

According to NAMI Greater Wheeling, “Adult Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help an adult who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.  The training helps participants learn to identify, understand, and respond to signs of addiction and mental illnesses.  This training is for adults (18 years of age or older) who want to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem.”

When asked, why this training was a valuable mental health resource opportunity for OHIO Eastern faculty and staff, Associate Professor, Dr. James Casebolt responded, “College faculty regularly get drawn into the personal lives of their students, the everyday world always finds its way into the classroom, and this has only been heightened by the pandemic. Since I teach psychology, I probably end up seeing even more of this than most faculty, as students make connections between their personal experiences and the topics we are covering in class.  It’s important for faculty to have the skills and information needed to respond in the moment, for the well-being of the student, so trainings like this one are very helpful in preparing all employees of the University who work with students, not just the faculty, to have a ready response when the need arises.”

Several Ohio University Eastern campus students also felt compelled to share their experiences after completing the MHFA training.

Hunter Miller, an OHIO Eastern senior graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in social work was one of the students who attended the virtual training.  She shared, “I would recommend this training to any student in a helping profession because it is always better to be trained and never use it, than need it and not be trained.”

OHIO Eastern student Lauren Roe stated, “I found the Mental Health First Aid training to be informative and engaging. I think it will help me in both my personal life and my future career as a social worker. I would recommend this training to everyone because understanding mental health is important and it could give you the opportunity to help someone you know.”

“I wanted to take this training because I have a passion to help others”, shared OHIO Eastern student Dena Kinsey.  “The most beneficial aspect of the training is the clarity of what your training is for.  You do not diagnose, treat, or direct in care; you are there to recognize, be present and provide available resources to someone who might be experiencing a mental health crisis. This training will help me in the future, alongside my education as a social worker, to recognize a mental health crisis and provide me with the framework in which to conduct myself during the said crisis.”

National Council for Behavioral Health reports “In a nation facing a crisis in care for people with mental illnesses and addictions, widespread training in Mental Health First Aid for every American increases the chance that people will get the initial support they need, and crisis can be averted.”

Ohio University Eastern campus is committed to promoting collaboration with community stakeholders to develop mental health programming to aide suicide prevention efforts, promote available mental health resources and reduce stigma about mental illness or mental health disorders treatment on campus.  These stakeholders include, but are not limited to, the campus counseling center, student groups (social work, nursing, and education), Greater Wheeling NAMI, OHIO Eastern faculty and staff, the Mental Health and Recovery Board serving Belmont, Harrison and Monroe Counties.  

This collaborative approach has the potential to fill gaps in service provider capacity, particularly for regional campuses like OHIO Eastern that lack a student health center. Helping students get connected to these services, either through a warm handoff or through distribution of information about available resources for students, may reduce some barriers to students accessing care for mental health.  OHIO Eastern and collaborative partners are working together to raise awareness of the ongoing mental health needs of college students and will continue to work together to support student’s mental health needs well beyond the pandemic.

The MHFA training was paid for through grant funding provided by the Ohio Program for Campus Safety and Mental Health.