Mental Health First Aid

Mental health was a common area of need in the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessments, a trend that only continued in the 2015 assessments. In 2014 Fairview trained its first instructor team and began hosting Mental Health First Aid classes in response to the need for mental health stigma reduction and general education. Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based program offered free of charge to participants.

Since 2014 we have:   

  • Trained 21 instructors
  • Conducted 99 classes
  • Certified 1,845 people

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognized evidence-based program that was created and is managed by the National Council for Behavioral Health. It is an eight-hour class that helps you identify, understand, and respond to signs of addiction and mental illnesses. You learn by engaging in the materials and relating what you learn to real-life situations. Role-playing, group discussions, and exercises keep you engaged and allow you to practice helping skills.

Why take Mental Health First Aid?
1. To be prepared: Just as you learn CPR, learn how to help in a mental health crisis
2. Mental illnesses are common: 1 in 5 adults in any given year
3. You care: be there for a friend, family member, or colleague
4. You can help: people with mental illnesses often suffer alone

Course types    
  • Adult Mental Health First Aid: Core program tailored for adults who want to learn how to help an individual who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or concern.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Reviews the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents ages 12 – 18. It emphasizes the importance of early intervention and covers how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.     
Skills learned
In the Mental Health First Aid training, you will learn:      
  • Risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns
  • Strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations
  • Where to turn for help
  • Non-judgmental communication and listening skills
  • A 5-step action plan to help someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis
Who should attend?
The course is for anyone who wants to learn how to provide initial help to someone who may be experiencing symptoms of mental illness or in crisis. The course gives people tools to help friends, family members, colleagues, or others in their community.
  • College/university leaders
  • Educators/school administrators
  • Human resource professionals
  • Nurses/physician assistants/primary care workers
  • Public safety personnel
  • Members of faith communities
  • Social services staff and volunteers
  • Policy makers
  • Substance abuse professionals
  • Social workers
  • Parents

Mental Health First Aid Classes

Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognized evidence-based program that was created and is managed by the National Council for Behavioral Health. It is an eight-hour class that helps you identify, understand, and respond to signs of addiction and mental illnesses.

Adult Mental Health First Aid 

Check back soon for upcoming classes.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

May 4, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital, 1601 Golf Course Road, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Register here

May 7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – University of Minnesota Medical Center, East Building – Brennan Center, 2450 Riverside Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454 8 a.m.–5 p.m
Register here

Meet the Mental Health First Aid Instructors

Adam James – Adult
Adam James is a graduate of Fairview's Clinical Pastoral Education program and currently works as a pediatric behavioral health chaplain at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. Adam is the co-lead for Spiritual Health's Quality Improvement, Education and Orientation Committee of Behavioral Health clinical work and practice.

Aja King – Adult
Aja King is a licensed professional clinical counselor and has been providing counseling services since 2001. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her Master of Art degree in community counseling from Argosy University in Atlanta, Ga. She is in the process of finishing her Doctor of Education degree in counseling psychology through Argosy University in Washington, D.C.

Akmed Khalifa – Adult
Akmed Khalifa is a Fairview Youth Grief Services Camp coordinator focusing on expanding the program into North Minneapolis. Akmed has spent the past 40 years counseling and mentoring young adults in both community and educational settings. Akmed is an educator and trainer with experience ranging from serving as adjunct faculty at Metro State University to being a certified diversity trainer who has taught City of Minneapolis employees, Bloomington Public Schools staff and others.

Alfred Babington-Johnson – Adult
Alfred Babington-Johnson is the founder and CEO of the Stairstep Foundation with a mission to reignite the spirit of community among African-Americans. Stairstep facilitates the largest ecumenical collaboration of African-American churches in Minnesota: His Works United (HWU). More than 150 congregations are connected through the HWU Policy Board, consisting of the Heads of Communion of all the major African-American denominations. The latest initiative of HWU is a focus on community wellness, violence reduction and elimination of mental illness stigma. Alfred is an ordained minister with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University and a Master of Divinity degree from Bethel Seminary.

Alissa LeRoux Smith – Youth / Adult
Alissa LeRoux Smith is the Community Health Outreach Manager, Fairview Southdale Hospital and Fairview Ridges Hospital. She worked for over eight years in residential and hospital-based treatment services for adults with mental illness and substance use disorders. She is a licensed graduate social worker. In her current role, Alissa plans and implements programs aimed at improving the health of the communities within the hospital service area.

Angie Dixon – Adult
Angie Dixon has extensive experience in facilitating adult groups and teaching adult audiences. Angie spent nearly a decade training adults across the United States for the National Child Protection Training Center. Angie also serves as a volunteer for the North Minneapolis expansion of the Youth Grief Services Program. Angie has a JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School and a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ohio State University.

Anna Kendig – Adult
Anna Kendig is a chaplain at University of Minnesota Health specializing in behavioral health, chemical dependency and spiritual care for Spanish-speaking families at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. She is a co-lead for behavioral health training and quality improvement in the Spiritual Health Services department. For the past several years, she has lead trainings for clergy and community groups on controversial topics such as boundaries, ethics and anti-racism.

Pastor Brian Herron – Adult
Brian Herron has been the senior pastor of Zion Baptist Church in North Minneapolis for the past 10 years. He has been involved in ministry for 13 years, worked as a counselor in a group home for girls with behavioral problems and founded and ran a program mentoring men and women coming out of incarceration. He has lead workshops for the City of Minneapolis, presented on a state and national level on the topics of crime prevention, gangs and the transition of prisoners and was also part of the United Way's Speakers Bureau.

Dustin Chapman –Youth / Adult
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor at M Health. Dustin's current role includes community outreach education to community members and parents of those suffering with substance use disorder and/or mental health crisis. Dustin is a certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor from the National Council on Behavioral Health.

Heriberto Vargas – Adult
Heriberto Vargas works as a cultural liaison and interpreter for the Eden Prairie School District. In this role, he facilitates monthly parent workshops and participates in the professional development training of current staff and new teachers.

Jen Encinger – Adult
Jen Encinger manages Fairview's Employee Assistance Program. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years. Jen is engaged in community mental health education and currently teaches both the Psychological First Aid and Suicide Prevention and QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer programs.

Katie Eisold – Youth
Program Coordinator and Camp Erin®-Twin Cities Co-Director for Fairview’s Youth Grief Services program, has been working with children and families for over 15 years as a Certified Child Life Specialist and supporting grieving children and families through support groups, children’s grief presentations, and a weekend-long camp. In addition to her bereavement work, Katie is a certified trainer for Youth Mental Health First Aid course from the National Council on Behavioral Health.

Lydia Nobello – Adult
Lydia is a Social Justice Community Organizer whose work includes a broad scope of issue resolution within historically marginalized communities. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor and has earned certifications in Herbal Studies at Normandale Community College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Most recently, she has become certified as an Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and is bi-lingual allowing her to conduct classes in both English and Spanish. Lydia is currently working as a Community Health Worker with the Catholic Charities Higher Ground Saint Paul Medical Respite team.

Molly Beckstrom – Adult
Molly Beckstrom is a Fairview Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor. She has a Master’s degree in counseling psychology and has worked as an EAP counselor for more than 18 years. In her current position, Molly leads critical incident stress debriefings, supporting employees through difficult or traumatic workplace incidents.

Peggy Huot – Adult
Peggy Huot is a Fairview Employee Assistance Program counselor and a licensed clinical social worker. She also works part-time on the Ramsey County adult mental health crisis unit. Peggy is an advocate for mental health awareness and works with an organization called Break the Stigma.

Imam Sharif Mohamed – Adult
Imam Sharif Mohamed is the first Muslim Imam to become a chaplain in Minnesota's history. He works at University of Minnesota Health and Fairview Ridges Hospital. Imam Sharif has an extensive background as a community presenter, leading more than 20 community presentations a year. He has led discussions on local television, on blogs and in his mosque. He has become a Mental Health First Aid instructor to provide a foundation for helping the Somali community address the stigma around mental illness.

Zahra Hassan – Adult
Zahra Hassan is a community health outreach coordinator at University of Minnesota Health. She has worked on several initiatives to reduce stigma and raise awareness on mental health within the Cedar-Riverside Somali community. Zahra has experience educating both children and adults on a variety of topics and coordinating community events. She has become a Mental Health First Aid instructor to provide a foundation for helping the Somali community address the stigma around mental illness.