The Alachua County Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training Initiative was recently recognized in the National Association of Counties (NACo) newsletter “County News.” The Department of Court Services manages this initiative. Court Services is hopeful that they can share their model and what they accomplished with other counties in the U.S.
This is one element of a significantly broader array of services in the County to respond to mental health needs. The program expanded awareness of mental health issues and how to respond to those who presented with them. Participants included over 2,100 County, Constitutional and Judicial officer agencies, and municipalities and nonprofit organization staff. Coupled with the City of Gainesville’s training of over 1,100 of their own staff, it is likely Alachua County has more of its public employees trained in MHFA than virtually any County of its size in the nation.
The County has been able to expand the awareness of its staff across the board on how to assist citizens who have mental health needs or are in the first stage of a crisis and how best to proceed in finding help by using an action plan.
“The current public health crisis makes it even more likely that communities are affected by mental health,” said Alachua County Court Services Criminal Justice Liaison Stuart Wegener. “Extending MHFA training to those who are on the front lines is one of the best ways to help our communities.”
The program recently earned an Achievement Award from NACo.
Read the article (on page 13)