CFR offers free mental health first aid training

Training designed for those 18 and older who are first responders or work with military, education, older adults or faith-based groups

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, along with the Iowa Department of Public Health, over 600,000 Iowa residents (20 percent of the population) experiences signs and symptoms of mental illness every year. Only 41 percent of that total routinely receives appropriate services. Stigma (in the form of stereotypes and prejudice) often discourages others to seek assistance and according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, half of all persons will experience diagnosable signs and symptoms of a mental health issue at least once in their lifetime.

Suicide correlates strongly to poor mental health that has been unchecked. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 451 Iowans died by suicide in 2018. This a 60 percent increase since 2000 and a rate that has doubled over the past decade. Substance use often co-occurs with mental illness, worsening a disorder’s signs and symptoms and increasing the risk of self-harm and suicide.

The additional shortage of professional mental health services (nationally and statewide) led Community and Family Resources to provide free Mental Health First Aid trainings by request in its service areas of Boone, Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Story, Webster, and Wright counties. Trainings offer evidence-based strategies on how to recognize, reach out, and refer to appropriate services for any youth or adults who exhibits signs and symptoms of a mental health concern or a behavioral health crisis.

Participants must be 18+ years old and employed as, work with, or related to:

• First-Responders (Public Safety, EMT, EMS, Fire)

• Education (public or private; all levels)

• Military (veterans, active/inactive duty)

• Older Adult Care Centers

• Faith-based Organizations

Trainings are delivered either as a one-day, 8-hour option or as a two-day, 4-hour option. Additional options are available upon request and are required to have between 5-30 participants. Participants may be eligible for CEUs based upon the participant’s employer’s requirements. Those who become certified Mental Health First Aiders will also be encouraged (but not required) to track interventions they initiate via brief, quarterly online surveys.

Community and Family Resources has been a free standing comprehensive substance abuse provider dedicated to serving families since 1968. Comprehensive Prevention Services began in 1982, and services for problem gambling began in 1997. The agency has been licensed by the State of Iowa to provide Substance Abuse Services since 1978. Counties currently served by CFR include Boone, Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Story, Webster, and Wright.

Since 2011, CFR has been an accredited Mental Health Service Provider by the Division of Mental Health and Disability Services under the Iowa Department of Human Services. In 2018, CFR earned a three-year accreditation from the international accrediting body, CARF, for its crisis stabilization, detoxification/withdrawal management, residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment programs.

In Fiscal Year 2019, CFR offered prevention services to schools, businesses, and community groups, reaching over 8,000 individuals. CFR offered treatment services to 2,684 individuals, receiving a 99% satisfaction rate. In June 2019, CFR constructed and relocated to a new comprehensive treatment center in Fort Dodge to continue providing adult and adolescent services to its region.

For information on CFR’s services, visit the organization’s website at www.cfrhelps.org or call 515-576-7261. Visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org for more information on Mental Health First Aid. Questions about local trainings can be sent to CFR Prevention Specialist Todd Anderson at todda@cfrhelps.org or at 515-832-5432, ext.1414.


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