SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, southeastern Vermont’s community mental-health agency, announced that it is collaborating with Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center to train hospital staff in Mental Health First Aid. Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches participants how to help someone with a mental health issue or crisis such as thoughts of suicide. Jill Lord, director of Community Health at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, says, “Mental health is one of our biggest priorities according to the most recent community needs assessment. This training will help our staff to recognize and support people struggling with mental health issues.”
Three Mental Health First Aid trainings have been scheduled at the hospital with the goal of making the training as accessible as possible for any staff who are in contact with patients, either clinically or administratively. The trainings will be conducted by three HCRS staff who are certified Mental Health First Aid trainers: Kate Lamphere, Adult Services division director; Jack Heddon, Adult Services area manager; and Christine Bullard, State Police liaison.
In addition, Lamphere will attend several meetings with physicians in order to give them guidance around talking with patients who are having thoughts of suicide.
Lord said, “I recently attended Kate’s training on suicide. She is amazing and made me much more comfortable with being able to listen, help, and support someone who is thinking about suicide.”
These trainings are funded through a grant from the Fanny Holt Ames and Edna Louise Holt Fund. HCRS was awarded the three-year $150,000 grant in 2016 with the goal of training more than 450 people in being able to identify and support individuals experiencing a mental health issue or crisis.
According to Lamphere, “These Mental Health First Aid trainings provide important information for our communities. Invariably, at every training, participants will reflect that they wish they had received this information years ago. We’re fortunate to have received this funding, which enables us to educate our communities on this critical issue.”
Lord adds, “We are grateful to HCRS, as one of our community partners, for helping us do this work. The quality of their support is at the highest level.”