by Reading Hospital – Tower Health
Reading Hospital has re-introduced Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to better equip employees and community members with the training and knowledge they need to support someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
The first two sessions were held on Oct. 27 and Nov. 30. Both sessions filled almost immediately, and hospital staff trained 60 employees and community members. Due to overwhelming interest in the course, the Community Wellness team plans to host additional sessions in 2024.
“Mental Health First Aid training contributes to a more informed, empathetic, and supportive society that is better equipped to aid someone facing a mental health concern,” said Chelsie L. Ober, Instructor for Mental Health First Aid Training, BS HCM, Paramedic, Manager of Emergency Preparedness and EMS Outreach. “It is important that we know how to help our family, friends, and neighbors through a mental health crisis, and this course aims to achieve just that.”
With MHFA training, individuals can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis in their family, friends, and peers early on. The course, which is funded by the Reading Hospital Foundation, includes in-person training sessions that provide instruction, role-playing activities, group discussions, tools, and community resources. Each session teaches attendees the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse; how they should interact with an individual experiencing a crisis; how to connect individuals with resources; and how to administer Naloxone in the event of an opioid crisis.
“The program provided an overview of common mental health challenges and practical applications for approaching individuals and assessment of potential suicide or harm,” said Jessica A. Borthwick, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, CMSRN, CHFN, Clinical Nurse Specialist. “I was faced with a situation not too long ago where I was able to use what I learned in the course. The individual reached out to me later on, thanking me for caring enough to ask if they were suicidal or had plans of harming themselves.”
The course is recommended for anyone interested in equipping themselves with the training needed to offer support to an individual experiencing a mental health or opioid crisis. Participants were required to complete two hours of coursework prior to their selected course date.
“Mental Health First Aid is appropriate for both medical and non-medically trained individuals,” said Chelsie L. Ober. “Do not hesitate to seek assistance from your local crisis intervention agency or dial 911 in the event of an emergency.”
For more information, please email [email protected].
Reading Hospital is the flagship, Magnet Recognized, acute care hospital of Tower Health. Located in West Reading, Reading Hospital is a 697-bed hospital that is home to many top-tier specialty care centers, including Reading HealthPlex, McGlinn Cancer Institute, Miller Regional Heart Center, Emergency Department, Level I Trauma Center, and Beginnings Maternity Center, which houses the region’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With more than 1,000 physicians, specialists, and advanced practice providers across 49 locations, Reading Hospital has been recognized for its quality outcomes and clinical expertise across service lines. It is listed as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for four consecutive years (and moving up to America’s 50 Best Hospitals in 2022). For more information, visit towerhealth.org.