Philadelphia Alumnae Offers 3-Year National Certification for Mental Health First Aid

Submitted by Nikita Bobo Peden

On May 18 during May Week, the Physical and Mental Health of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in partnership with Senator Vincent J. Hughes and the Black Women’s Health Alliance offered an Adult Mental Health First Aid Training. This training was facilitated by the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIS), Mr. Malik Gray, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Senator Vincent J. Hughes who represents the 7th Senatorial District in Pennsylvania and serves as the Democratic Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Alliance works to improve health care outcomes and reduce health disparities for African Americans and other minority women and their families through advocacy, education, research and support services. The MHFA training is a public education program that teaches the skills needed to identify, understand, and respond to signs of behavioral health challenges or crises. First Aid is given until appropriate support is received.

DBHIS is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of all Philadelphians. Under its mental health services Healthy Minds Philly program, the Adult Mental Health First Aid course is designed for anyone 18 years and older who desires to learn how to help people who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions. This course accommodates participants from various backgrounds and community groups to include faith groups, management, community work, non-profit and for-profit settings. Participants who complete the course receive a three-year national certification.

Thirty people registered for the event and 17 attended the MHFA training. This training unexpectedly provided the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter future partnerships with various community organizations. In attendance, was a representative from the Sorority’s National Partner NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Health). In addition, there were representatives from the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network (PAAN) one of Philadelphia’s leading non-profit agencies dedicated to addressing drug abuse and violence among our youth and their families, the Gun Violence Awareness & Reduction Committee, Einstein Medical Center, and the Jefferson Health System. In addition, there was a presentation addressing gun violence, and a demonstration on how to use a gun lock.  They also provided a gun locks giveaway.

The program was well received. A survey was conducted among the 17 attendees. On a rubric ranging from Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Uncertain, Agree and Strongly Agree the following was accessed: 16 Strongly Agree that goals were clearly communicated, objectives were achieved, content was practical and easy to understand, and that there was adequate opportunity to practice skills learned. One person Agreed.  Highlighted comments were:

  • “We touched on some heavy topics, gracefully.”
  • “The instructor was engaging and real.”
  • “Continue to pour in information that is unique to minority populations.”

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