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National Initiative: Mindfulness Center trains ‘Mental Health First Aid’

The new Gorge Mindfulness Center founded by local psychotherapist Craig Schlarb, Ph.D., LPC (3088) is initiating the Mental Health First Aid program in the Gorge for the Faith Community. The Gorge Mindfulness Center will train up to 30 faith leaders to improve mental health literacy – helping them identify, understand and effectively respond to signs of mental illness.

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To register in this Mental Health First Aid training visit www.gorge-mindful... or call Craig Schlarb at 541-645-0738.

The training will be provided Saturday Dec. 5, from 8:30-5 p.m. at Riverside Community Church in Hood River. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.

“We are thrilled to bring Mental Health First Aid to our community,” said Vicky Stifter, pastor of Riverside Community Church. “This important educational effort goes much further than emergency intervention; it really helps faith leaders understand the shroud of fear and misjudgment facing individuals and families who experience mental illnesses and addiction. It will help our community address the stigma and injustice while moving more and more people toward recovery.”

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training certification course which teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual, the certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

“We welcome Craig Schlarb and Gorge Mindfulness Center’s involvement and enthusiasm in the Mental Health First Aid community,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, the organization who brought Mental Health First Aid to the United States in 2008.

“We know Craig and the Center will have a great impact on mental health communities throughout the Columbia Gorge, and will be a key player in improving mental health literacy nationwide.”

In its pilot year, the program was introduced in nearly twenty states and more than 40 communities nationwide. The National Council certified Schlarb to provide the Mental Health First Aid program in January 2013 through an instructor certification course in Bend. Gorge Mindfulness Center and all the sites across the nation that replicate this program maintain strict fidelity to the original, proven program.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in 20 other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

Participants will become nationally certified mental health first aid providers. Fee of $35 covers take home manual and associated costs.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 2,000 or more behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly seven million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.

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