Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a workshop that introduces participants to some of the most prevalent mental illnesses and teaches them how to help people developing a mental illness or crisis by connecting them with a trained mental health professional and encouraging self-help and other support strategies. Participants learn basic facts about depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders.
Participants learn how to apply the action plan in a variety of situations, including presentation of suicidal thoughts or behaviors and non-suicidal self-injury, and practice the action plan through role-plays, scenarios, and activities. The course originally lasted two days, but was later abbreviated to one day in 2013. The first daylong MHFA training offered by the Tulare and Kings Counties Suicide Prevention Task Force (SPTF) was on December 9, 2013.
From February 6, 2013 through June 16, 2014 there were 13 trainings sponsored by the SPTF. One was offered in Kings County and the remaining 12 were provided in Tulare County, although Kings County residents attended trainings in Tulare County. Eight of the trainings were offered at 210 West Center Avenue in Visalia, one was given at the Visalia Arts Consortium (specifically for staff members and instructors of the My Voice Media Center), one was offered at the Milan Institute’s facility at 6500 South Mooney Boulevard in Visalia (especially for staff and students of the vocational school), one was provided in Cutler-Orosi, and one was given at the Tulare Public Library.
This report is an evaluation of these efforts.