Several hospitals in the Northeast Florida area around Jacksonville have come together for a new mental health campaign. They are offering free mental health training. The course called, Mental Health First Aid, is free and open to all Northeast Florida residents.
This course is in response to the 2016 results that found that Northeast Florida ranked the second lowest in the state for mental health funding. This is in addition to the entire state of Florida ranking 49th for mental health funding in the US.
Hospitals in the area have decided to act by training local residents about how to deal with those suffering from mental health problems. Their goal is to stop being from being hesitant about talking about mental health and teaching people how to safely intervene in situations.
Mental Health First Aid is a free course. During the eight-hour course, people learn how to understand, identify, and respond to signs of mental illness. The hospital’s goal is to train 10,000 first responders and residents over the next three years. The aim is that everyone would have training in this, just like people get with general First Aid and CPR training, which is they the course is open to anyone in the community.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has already had several officers and first responders complete their training. There are over 3,000 officers in the area that will be trained in total. Police officers are aware that people in a mental health crisis commit many criminal acts. Often jail isn’t the best option. This training will help officers assess the situation and hopefully provide accurate care and treatment.
Many people are not able to identify or recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues. This is why so often they go untreated. It’s also why police officers take force, as they aren’t able to notice that this person isn’t in good mental health.
The latest Community Health Needs Assessment state the more than one in eight emergency room visits are related to mental health. These people often get turned away or only stay for a short time without really getting the help they need.
With 1 in 25 adults living with a serious mental health issue and 1 in 5 adults experiencing any mental health illness, proper funding, teaching, and resources are important. Hopefully, this new health care initiative will be a proactive step towards getting people the help they need. This program could kick off others like it in other areas of Florida.
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