EHF has partnered with Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Texas to offer Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to their congregations and surrounding communities over the past two years.
Mental Health is a known community health priority for for both the state of Texas and our congregations. Almost half of individuals experiencing mental health needs seek out churches for support, and Episcopal congregational leaders and members have expressed the desire to learn more about how to respond.
As an entry point to address the concern for mental health, the Foundation launched a series of Mental Health First Aid workshops in early 2016, and has widely disseminated the training to create a critical mass of people able to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and refer to resources and services.
Congregations have been eager to engage in this training and we have also made an effort to reach particular areas. Targeted outreach is aimed at congregations in rural regions, in geographic areas where workshops have not been held, and recently in areas hit by Hurricane Harvey.
A major part of the workshops is bringing congregations together with community partners to engage and discuss mental health concerns in their particular communities. Partners certified in MHFA through participation in our training include:
- School administration
- Social service agencies
- Fire departments
- Police departments
- Higher education
- Clinic staff
Through Mental Health First Aid training, EHF aims to increase access to mental health services and advocate for mental health policy and programs by first addressing the barrier of stigma through education about mental health.
41 Mental Health First Aid training sessions have been sponsored by EHF across the Diocese, with the generosity of Episcopal host institutions
3 Episcopal congregations and entities have hosted more than one Mental Health First Aid training
808 Congregants and community members have been certified in Mental Health First Aid
420 Episcopal parishioners have been certified in Mental Health First Aid
52+ Episcopal congregations have had at least one representative attend a MHFA training
Since the training, participants have reported that their perceptions of mental illness and interactions with those who may be experiencing mental health issues have changed. The lasting impact of the training in the communities includes shifting mindsets and beliefs about mental illness which leads to stigma reduction, creating a supportive and inclusive community, connecting those in need to services when available, and increasing support for expanded access to services.
As a result of this training more than 90% of participants feel more confident they can:
- recognize the signs that someone may be dealing with a mental health problem or may be experiencing a mental health crisis
- reach out to someone who may be dealing with a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis
- assist a person who may be dealing with a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis to seek professional help (or peer/community supports)
- be aware of their own views and feelings about mental health problems and disorders
- recognize and correct misconceptions about mental health and mental illness as they encounter them
In 2018, EHF will continue to offer Mental Health First Aid workshops through Episcopal congregations. Our goal is to equip people with the tools necessary to help someone who is experiencing a mental health need and gain a better understanding of mental health issues to support the needs in their community.
If your congregation is interested in Mental Health First Aid for 2018, now is the perfect time to request a workshop for your community. Please email Melodee Toles or call her at 832-658-2662.