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Press Release

Americares Announces Mental Health First Aid Scholarship Winners

  • February 27, 2019

Stamford, Conn. Feb. 27, 2019 – Americares, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers, has selected Seth Allard of American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit, Mich., and Lisa Johnson of Chiricahua Community Health Services in Sierra Vista, Ariz., to receive Mental Health First Aid Instructor Scholarships. Americares and the National Association of Community Health Centers launched the program earlier this month to increase access to mental health first aid training for health workers across the country.

“With one in five Americans experiencing a mental health or addiction disorder, Americares is committed to ensuring more primary care providers have access to this important training,” said Americares Vice President of U.S. Programs and Partnerships Lindsay O’Brien. “Scholarship recipients will be better equipped to respond to the needs of patients with mental health conditions or substance use issues and will share that knowledge with their colleagues.”

Each health worker will take part in a five-day workshop through the National Council for Behavioral Health to become trained as mental health first aid instructors. The training includes a written exam and evaluates each candidate’s ability to present the 8-hour Mental Health First Aid course to a variety of audiences. Once certified, instructors are required to deliver a minimum of three Mental Health First Aid courses per year to maintain their certification.

Americares also awarded the 8-hour mental health first aid training to the North Carolina Community Health Center Association. Americares mental health first aid instructors will provide the training for up to 30 employees of federally qualified health centers in April. Participants will learn to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders and become certified in mental health first aid. Since 2017, Americares has trained more than 140 health workers to become certified mental health first instructors. Americares is expanding its behavioral health programming in the United States with support from the AmerisourceBergen Foundation.

Participants were selected from a competitive pool of applicants nationwide. All candidates were asked to submit a statement of need and training plan.

“Identifying someone who may need emotional or behavioral health support should become as common as individuals knowing the Heimlich maneuver to help someone who is choking,” said National Association of Community Health Centers Associate Vice President of Partnership and Resource Development Jason Patnosh. “A partnership with Americares to increase mental health first aid training is an important first step. Going forward, our vision is for health centers to become trained on programs like mental health first aid and then share that training in their own communities and generate a multiplying effect. That way, we can make it possible to improve the well-being for millions of Americans suffering from mental health and substance use.”

The National Association of Community Health Centers was founded in 1971 to promote efficient, high-quality, comprehensive health care that is accessible, culturally and linguistically competent, community directed and patient centered for all.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to become a mental health first aid instructor,” said American Indian Health and Family Services Program Manager Seth Allard. “Learning how to listen and communicate more effectively with someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis is essential, and I look forward to educating my colleagues to better identify, understand and respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use.”

American Indian Health & Family Services is a non-profit health center whose mission is to empower and enhance the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing of American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, families and other underserved populations in southeast Michigan through culturally grounded health and family services.

“Given the number of individuals living with untreated mental health conditions, mental health first aid is needed now more than ever,” said Chiricahua Community Health Centers Licensed Clinical Social Worker Lisa Johnson. “I am thrilled to participate in this valuable training and serve my community as a mental health first aid instructor.”

Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. is a mission-driven federally qualified health center and is a tax exempt not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It was founded as a grassroots community effort in 1996 as a makeshift clinic in Elfrida’s small community center and has since grown to be the largest primary care organization in southeastern Arizona. Chiricahua Community Health Centers currently has 10 locations in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Elfrida, Sierra Vista and Willcox, with two additional locations under construction and five mobile medical and dental units that serve rural Cochise County.

“Poverty, stress and despair exacerbate the mental health needs in the communities we serve,” said North Carolina Community Health Center Association President and CEO E. Benjamin Money, Jr. “We are excited to expand mental health first aid training throughout our health center network.”

The North Carolina Community Health Center Association is a private, non-profit membership association that represents federally-qualified health centers and aspiring health centers across North Carolina. Its mission is to promote and support these patient-governed community health care organizations and the populations they serve.

Americares saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster worldwide so they can reach their full potential. In the U.S., Americares is the largest nonprofit provider of medical aid to organizations serving low-income and uninsured patients. Americares provides medicine, supplies, education and training annually to a network of more than 1,000 partner clinics nationwide. Americares U.S. Program helps partner clinics increase capacity, provide comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients.