Mental Health First Aid is a national, 8-hour
course that teaches people to identify, understand, and respond to signs of
mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders.
Similar to the more familiar CPR and somatic First Aid courses, Mental
Health First Aid teaches people to reach out and provide initial support to
someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help
connect persons at risk to appropriate care.
The applicable training course taught AAACERT members,
Upper Marlboro CERT members, and others the
common signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, how to
interact with a person in crisis, and how to connect that person with the help
that they need.
Per the instruction, if a person is determined to be in need
of help, the helper should apply the “ALGEE” action plan:
Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Give reassurance and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Anne Arundel County boasts a robust mental health system
that serves as a model to other jurisdictions across the country.
Response System – A 24/7 Warmline [(410) 768-5522] exists and can activate
Mobile Crisis Teams; provide information, support, and referrals; and serve as
a link to first responders.
Crisis Intervention Teams – A police officer and
a clinician are ready to respond immediately to people in crisis, making sure
they get the care they need.
Safe Stations – A person needing treatment for
addiction can visit any police or fire station, at any time, to seek care. The person is able to dispose of
paraphernalia without fear of legal action and get the help they need.
Robust Training – Every police
officer, dispatcher, and school nurse, as well as most school principals in the
county, have received this training. The
Fire Department is next on the list to get fully trained.
Those that took the course gained substantial knowledge and
resources to assist them handling a mental health emergency. Multiple students
left with information on how to schedule the course with other organizations
and groups that they are affiliated with.
Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.
I’ve seen it among my co-workers, depression and PTSD. Working in a high stress environment where one sees the worse of the worse will take it’s toll! We are not superhuman. Recognize some of the symptoms. Talking to others is NOT a sign of weakness. Many, myself included, find that talking to others that have “been here, done that, bought the t-shirt” is a great way to deal with the stress.