Mental Health First Aid – Missouri

Greetings! I’m former State Senator Betty Sims
and I have an incredible story to tell you. In about 2006 I was appointed by the
Governor to be on the Transformation Team of the Department
of Mental Health. That put me into an avenue for change, if you will,
and I went to many workshops and learned about stigma. Learned about the fact that we really
don’t understand mental illness, we really don’t know what the issues are,
and we — I speak for all the people in the state of Missouri. It’s not just
an individual thing. I also happen to have the privilege of
serving on the Reforming States Group, which is a cutting-edge organization for
legislators and health-care directors. And I was at a meeting in New Orleans
and I met Betty Kitchener and Dr. Tony Jorm, who had invented
something called Mental Health First Aid. And in listening to their conversation,
they were talking about a 12-hour training course to teach the likes
of me – individuals – about mental illness. To get rid of the stigma, to give us the
training that we might need to identify a mental illness, and to possibly
understand what the resources were available to help my friends,
my family, anybody they might have come in contact with
who could use some advice. Not to be a psychiatrist,
not to be a psychologist, but to be a first aider. And I thought:
that is exactly what we need. I came back to St. Louis,
came immediately over to the Department of Mental Health,
talked to the director and he said “Okay, Sims, you carry it.” And with that, we started in and we put
together a Mental Health First Aid Team. We’ve been working on it, thanks to
Dottie, and I know you’ll be hearing from her shortly. You will see what
is going on with Mental Health First Aid. We hope, in conjunction with the
state of Maryland and the National Behavioral Health Council,
to train many, many thousands of people in our country about
Mental Health First Aid. Welcome to Mental Health First Aid —
especially the way we do it in Missouri. Just to make sure that we’re all
on the same page, I want to talk a little bit about mental health issues.
I think you know, or you may have heard, that one in four individuals will have a
mental health diagnosable illness. So, if we were to just go around the room,
including everyone, think about it: One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One in four of us this year would be
diagnosed with a mental health illness. Stop and think about that and compare
with a regular illness. And stigma is considered the biggest
barrier to getting any kind of treatment for a mental health issue. Half of all mental health illnesses
begin by the age of 14. So think of what you know about that in
terms of when we start treatment around mental health illnesses. At least one in five children and
adolescents has a mental health issue; one in 10, a serious mental health
emotional disturbance. And we know generically from dealing
with the workforce that in fact major depression is associated with
significantly increased absence and decreased productivity. I’m sure that
Labor would certainly attest to that. And any kind of corporate CEO
would justify that. We know that when we’re looking at
treatment, that the treatment success rate for serious mental illness in fact is
greater than the treatment success rate for serious heart disease.
And yet if you were to ask the regular person on the street, they would be
surprised at that. They would think that it
would be easier to treat heart disease than
serious mental illness. Two thirds of folks with
serious mental illness don’t seek treatment at all,
primarily because of stigma. If you were to talk to managers
who supervise others, they don’t know how to deal
with depression. That’s a serious issue when you look at the prevalence of
depression in the work place. And by the year 2020, clinical depression
is expected to rank as the second greatest issue in the work place
worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. If someone has alcohol or drug addiction,
in fact, untreated depression is a significant issue. In a recent study — if in fact you
treat depression, you’re going to recover 45 to 98% of the cost of treatment just by
having increased productivity. Well, that’s a no brainer. So enter Mental Health First Aid. I
I probably need to change that [slide] because it’s not a super program.
If in fact you were treating heart disease, you wouldn’t consider treating heart
disease with CPR. You would be looking at nutrition, at exercise, at medication.
You would be looking at the potential for heart surgery at a range of options. If you were looking at trying to improve
drop-outs in school, you would be looking at the leadership of the principal, you
would be looking at parent involvement, you would be looking at school climate,
you would be looking at all the different factors. And the same is
true of any kind of mental health issue. So we don’t say that Mental Health First
Aid is a standalone program, but it is one in a toolbox of things that you really
ought to consider. Mental Health First Aid started
in Australia in 2001. It was started by Betty Kitchener
and her husband Tony Jorm. Betty is a wife, a parent, a nurse,
a special educator, and has suffered throughout her life with depression.
And that’s important because it means that she’s walked the walked.
She’s not just talked about it. Her husband is a clinical psychologist.
He’s taught, he’s done research and for that reason, the program
has had research from day one and is regarded as a research-based,
evidence-based program. It is, in fact, the initial help
provided someone who’s demonstrating initial signs of mental health issues. I think we really have to say thanks to the
American Red Cross, because if someone takes CPR or first aid, there’s
no sense that anyone taking those programs are going to come away
knowing how to do brain surgery, knowing how to set a leg. And when
someone takes Mental Health First Aid, there’s no sense they’re going to
come away being a psychiatrist or a psychologist or a counselor.
There’s a real sense that it’s a temporary solution, a first response,
someone who’s on the scene. I think that in terms of mental health,
we’ve not done a good job of explaining mental health issues so that
people can really wrap their arms around it. And this is one of the first programs
that I’ve seen that people can have a quick and clear understanding of what it
really is, and that’s one of the things that makes it very exciting. So what really is Mental Health First Aid? It’s a 12-hour course that
can be taken by folks. It specifically says what you can do and
what you should not do to help people who are experiencing a
mental health crisis. They may be showing
signs and symptoms of an emerging mental health issue. They may be experiencing a trauma.
They may be experiencing a drug overdose, and it says what you
can do, how you can get help and what you should not do. It deals with the typical mental health
topics of depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar, eating
disorders, substance use disorders – the things that we see in everyday life. The program is organized so that you
look at the signs and symptoms of the common mental health disorders. You look at the risk and protective factors
involved with it, and you look at crisis situations. It has an
action plan, and that’s one of the things that people grasp most easily and that
they really like. It’s not just a program that talks about it,
it really says what you can do and it goes through that. It goes through
looking at suicidal behavior, what you can really do and everyone
practices the steps of assessing for suicidal behavior.
Talks about self-help strategies and what a family is able to do. As I said it’s research based,
it’s been reviewed in peer journals. What the results have indicated is in fact
people who take Mental Health First Aid show improved recognition of signs and
symptoms of common mental health disorders.
They have changed beliefs about that. There’s a clear reduction in stigma,
which is really important to us because if stigma is a real barrier for people
getting help, reducing stigma is a major goal in what we’re
trying to do. They have increased confidence in
providing help and much to our surprise, it increased the mental health of the
people actually taking the course. That was not something that was a goal,
but it was a real important factor. And an actual increase in the amount of
help provided for the folks. So who should take Mental Health
First Aid? Well, just about everyone. Next door neighbors, ministers, college
students, people who answer the phones, receptionists, new employees,
bus drivers, librarians, residential assistants in dorms,
a lot of folks. One group that probably
should not take it are mental health professionals. They
really should be at a level that they should not need that. So that’s one group that we don’t
recognize and we don’t recommend it for. The college students,
a lot of people across the country, have been involved with this. Implementing Mental Health First Aid in
the United States are three organizations: the National Council for Community
Behavioral Health Care, the Maryland Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. And you folks can really
feel good about this. I get a little tired of looking at the
newspaper and seeing that Missouri is 50 out of 50th when it comes to some
issues around alcohol and drug abuse or taxes. That we’re 45th out of 50
in some areas. And I’m here to tell you that when it
comes to Mental Health First Aid, we’re right there at the top. I don’t know
about you, but when it comes to implementing programs, there are times
when I would rather work independently rather than part of a committee. It’s a
little easier that way; however, for the good of the country,
it’s a lot better that the three of us are working together. And I can tell you that we really have
done an excellent job and you can feel very proud of what
Missouri is doing toward this initiative. So what do we really hope to do here?
Plain and simple, we want to train thousands of Missourians in
Mental Health First Aid. We want Mental Health First Aid to be
just as common as CPR. We want them to be able to identify a
mental health crisis and feel very confident in responding. We really want
to reduce stigma throughout Missouri and throughout the United States. So far, our special areas of interest
have been faith-based organizations. We have a significant grant from the
Missouri Foundation for Health that allows us to partner with faith-based
organizations and offer the program at almost no cost. We’ve also had a real focus with our
sister agencies, particularly in Transformation, Department of
Corrections, Social Services, Health and Senior Services, Education. We want to partner with anyone that
will enable us to really look at sustainability for the future. And we want
to plant seeds across Missouri. We are about trying to take action,
so if you have an interest in Mental Health First Aid,
if we can partner with you, we’re interested in partnering with you,
so feel free to approach us. We want to recruit others
to be involved in Mental Health First Aid. We’re interested in having you empower
employees to take the 12-hour course. If you’re interested in that, we’ll provide
instructors for you. And tell us how we can partner with you
to be more effective in what we’re trying to do.
We want to be effective. We believe in
Mental Health First Aid. We believe it can make a difference and
we’re excited about what we’re doing. Part of what our vision is,
we want to reduce stigma. We know it’s a major barrier
in accomplishing what we want with mental health issues. We believe that
Mental Health First Aid can make a real difference with that. We want
people to be seeking services earlier. We don’t want them to wait. We know
that, in general, people wait 10 years before they seek services for a
mental health disorder. If you have the first feelings of
heart disease and waited 10 years, what would happen to that heart? It
would be a lot worse, and that’s exactly what happens with mental health issues.
So we’re really invested in reducing stigma
so we can get services earlier. We really would like to see Mental Health
First Aid be one tool that is available in communities throughout Missouri.
And we want recovery to be viewed as the norm when it comes to
mental health issues, so that people don’t see schizophrenia as a lifetime issue. So they see
schizophrenia as something that people can recover from and go back and
return and live life in community. And that’s our goal.

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