Purpose: The aim of this presentation is to describe the education plan for mental health awareness among ambulatory care clinical staff and college of medicine faculty/staff/students that reduces mental health-related stigma and improves early intervention for patients and families in the ambulatory care healthcare setting.
Relevance: Mental health issues affect all of society in some way and complicate mental and physical health recovery from illness. To address these needs, early awareness, identification, and assessment for risk of suicide or harm, listening non- judgmentally, identification of a support system, giving reassurance, and encouraging professional referrals and self- help strategies is needed. Teaching ambulatory care staff early recognition of signs and symptoms leads to early patient interventions.
Strategy and implementation: This mental health need was addressed by a coordinated effort of providing education to ambulatory care staff. The director of the Office of Student Mental Health and Counseling and the chair of psychiatry identified an evidence-based program, Mental Health First Aid USA, and extended usage to the ambulatory care staff. The clinical nurse educator was sent for instructor training by the ambulatory care nursing director and then collaborated with the director of the student mental health and counseling office to teach the Mental Health First Aid USA course for ambulatory care staff.
As of spring 2019, a total of 6 courses for ambulatory care staff, with an average of 23 and over 100 staff, have attended the training. Resources are included for suicidal ideation. Manuals and materials have contributed to the success of the course. Participants have described the course as practical for identifying early signs and symptoms. Practicing listening techniques for suicide and harm have helped remove barriers for staff.
Evaluation/outcome: Evaluations have indicated the need for more courses. Mental health first aid has helped correct misconceptions and fear. The longer the delay in getting help, the more difficult the recovery can be. It is during early interventions that mental health first aid can play an important role. Thus, our urgency in providing education for our ambulatory care and college of medicine staff.
Implications for practice: The focus on ambulatory care and population health indicates a growing urgency to reduce stigma and fear around mental health. Early access and awareness of mental health first aid by staff can link patients to community care and improved mental and physical health. The mental health first aid course is designed to teach participants how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, offer and provide initial help, and guide the individual to professional help, if appropriate. Mental Health First Aid USA (2015) National Council for Behavioral Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health conducts the instructor training and associated training materials.
The publications associated with the course material incorporated with permission from 1. Kitchener BA, Jorm AF, Kelly CM. Mental Health First Aid Manual, 2nd ed. Melbourne, Australia, 2010. 2. The Mental Health First Aid (TM) is published by the National Council for Behavioral Health 1400 K Street Northwest #400, Washington DC, 2005.