Concordia University Wisconsin's School of Pharmacy is training Mental Health First Aiders.
Pharmacy school trains Mental Health First Aiders
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s important to talk about mental health. Why, though? Talking about mental health has many benefits, such as encouraging care and support, understanding that you’re not alone, and reducing the stigma around mental health. Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy is excited to engage in more conversations around mental health. Recently, pharmacy professors Dr. Mike Brown and Dr. Beth DeJongh, as well as Director of Student Affairs Lauren Dixon, became certified to train individuals to become Mental Health First Aiders.
What are Mental Health First Aiders?
Mental Health First Aiders are trained to recognize and identify signs and symptoms of mental health issues, and they learn how to interact effectively and safely with someone who is struggling. It’s important to know that these individuals are not trained to diagnose mental health disorders, nor are they trained to treat mental health issues or provide mental healthcare. However, their role is to try to prevent a crisis before it escalates to that level by recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges. They help triage a person to professional mental health resources.
Becoming a Mental Health First Aider
This training is open to all students and faculty in the School of Pharmacy, and the certification is valid for three years. The School of Pharmacy hopes to have all second-year pharmacy students earn their Mental Health First Aider certification. Ultimately, Dr. Brown, Dr. DeJongh and Ms. Dixon hope to expand the availability of this training to the broader Concordia community and perhaps even our neighboring communities.
The ALGEE framework
The ALGEE acronym helps Mental Health First Aiders take action when someone needs support.
A = Assess & approach
L = Listen nonjudgmentally
G = Give reassurance and information
E = Encourage professional help, provide those resources
E = Encourage self-help and other coping strategies
How is Concordia’s School of Pharmacy supporting student mental health?
The School of Pharmacy has identified that it wants to create a safe space for every student, meaning that students feel comfortable sharing challenges and stresses. Through a holistic approach, professors are hoping to break down barriers surrounding mental health, with the ultimate goal of helping students navigate pharmacy school better. One way to start is to admit that we need help and need each other, and that vulnerability is one of the biggest challenges.
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