Mental illnesses are serious, quite common medical illnesses that affect people of any age. One in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
And, we expect to see mental health needs continue to grow. The World Health Organization has predicted that, by 2020, major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
At Fairview, we know firsthand the need for mental health care. Fairview’s 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) identified mental health issues as a top health care need across our geographic locations—from Hibbing to Edina to Minneapolis.
We’re addressing these needs with a two-pronged education approach—free classes for community members and our employees. (See “Learn about upcoming courses” below.)
This year, each of our hospitals will be able to offer two free Mental Health First Aid classes to the local community. The eight-hour course has two versions: one for people who work with adults and one for people who work with youth. The nearly $30,000 cost is funded by Fairview Foundation’s Greatest Needs Fund.
Mental Health First Aid teaches people how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps people learn to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
We successfully piloted the content with a Youth Mental Health First Aid course last November at Fairview Ridges Hospital, says Ann Ellison, director of Fairview Community Health.
We had participation from a broad range of community members who work closely with youth, including adults from area high schools, athletic trainers from the Institute for Athletic Medicine (which provided some of the funding to make that pilot possible), a community health nurse, pastors and youth ministers, says Ann.
“Participants found the course to be extremely helpful. Some did say that, if Fairview hadn’t been able to waive the $50 fee, they wouldn’t have been able to participate due to lack of funds. That’s why Fairview Foundation’s full funding of the community classes is so important.”
We are partnering with the Minnesota office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Minnesota) to offer these classes. Community health staff at every Fairview hospital and are reviewing specific community needs and scheduling classes.
Gifts to Fairview Foundation also helped fund two Fairview Southdale Hospital employees to become certified Mental Health First Aid instructors. Having Fairview instructors will allow us to train more people for a longer period of time.
JoAnna Roberson, Adult Mental Health nurse manager, and Alissa LeRoux Smith, Community Health manager, completed the training in March and will offer the classes, beginning this summer.
In addition to educating our community partners and community members, we also are equipping our Fairview team members to develop or enhance their ability to to identify people dealing with a mental health issue. This helps our patients get the help they need faster.
“It’s often our health care employees who are the first point of contact for a patient who may need mental health care,” says Ann.
“We want to give employees a skill set they can draw on in the immediate moment.”
“As one of the region’s largest behavioral health providers, our health system is uniquely positioned to meet these community health needs,” adds Ann.
The first Mental Health First Aid class for the community will be held Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville.
For information on how to register for this class—or to be notified about future classes in other locations as dates are set—please email your contact information (and whether you’re interested in the adult or youth course) to: Community-Health@fairview.org.