SARASOTA, FL – According to Mental Health America, one in five adults – more than 40 million Americans – has a mental health condition. Yet, due to factors such as financial capacity, access to care, and the stigma that persists with regard to mental illness, more than half of American adults with mental illness do not receive treatment. Additionally, many people may not know what to do if a co-worker or family member admitted they had suicidal thoughts, were struggling with an addiction, or were suffering from an eating disorder or severe anxiety.
Recently, Goodwill Manasota hosted training for 24 of its employees in an effort to provide them with the skills to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. On June 27 at Goodwill’s Mecca location in north Sarasota, mental health professionals from Centerstone presented “Mental Health First Aid,” an 8-hour course that teaches and offers the opportunity to practice intervention strategies for situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with a person who may be suicidal, or assisting an individual with addiction issues.
Just as CPR enables a person with no clinical training to assist someone suffering a medical crisis, the Mental Health First Aid program enables someone without mental health training to support an individual in emotional or psychological need until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aid participants learn to assess risk, respectfully listen to and support the individual in crisis, and identify appropriate professional help and other supports. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build an understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families, and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.
Many companies around the nation have provided this type of training for their employees, including Aetna, Purdue University, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and NAMI, to name a few. Mental Health First Aid helps demystify mental health, not by teaching people to diagnose or provide treatment, but by showing participants how to assess risk, listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and information, and to encourage people to get professional help.
Leading the training from Centerstone were Charles Whitfield, director of community care, and Adina Bridges, comprehensive treatment court therapist/coordinator. The Goodwill team members who attended and earned their certification in Mental Health First Aid were from human resources, safety, operations leadership, the Veterans Services Program, and mission services team.
“Goodwill Manasota employs and serves a very diverse population, including people who may be dealing with mental health issues,” said Goodwill Manasota vice president Margie Genter. “We are grateful that our friends from Centerstone could spend the day with us to make sure that our team has the training they need to provide compassionate support when they are working with someone who has a mental illness.”
Goodwill Manasota provides nearly 20,000 hours annually of on-the-clock education and training. For more information about Goodwill, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2017, Goodwill Manasota served 11,672 people, placed 555 people in jobs, assisted 360 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce, and provided 19,540 hours of on-the-clock training for its employees. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 41 million pounds out of the landfill. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.