The Ralph Froio Center in Pittsfield received a $ 3,300 service incentive grant from the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs for a program called "Mental Health First Aid". The program will be offered in two six hour sessions at the Froio Center on June 26th and 27th, 2013. "Mental Health First Aid" is an evidence based program modeled after first aid courses offered by the American Red Cross to treat physical emergencies. Although the course is geared toward the general public it will be especially beneficial to any individual, who deals with the public on a regular basis such as housing managers, downtown merchants and service personal in agencies such as senior centers.
The program was created by Professor Anthony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education. The program was started in Australia and was brought to the United States by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Four detailed studies have been completed and nearly a dozen journal articles have been published on the program's impact on the public. One trial of 301 randomized participants found that those trained in mental health first aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health care professionals, and decreased stigmatization of individuals affect by mental health issues. The study also found that the program improved the mental health of the participants themselves.
The Pittsfield program will be offered by Maureen Dimock, MSW, LICSW and Meg Mastriana, MSW, LICSW. Registration is free and limited to 40 participants. Individuals may register by calling Vin Marinaro at (413) 822-1647.