Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), a community mental health agency in Illinois, has achieved the Mental Health First Aid Community Impact Award as part of the 2014 National Council Awards of Excellence from the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council). The award recognizes C4 for its extensive and significant impact on the community through the delivery of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings. The honorees will be awarded at the National Council’s Awards of Excellence celebration in Washington, DC on May 6, 2014.
In 2008, C4 was selected as one of seven organizations in the country to pilot the Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Today, C4 has trained nearly 2,500 individuals including more than 440 organizations on methods to assist people who may be in the early stages of developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.
“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Eileen Durkin, C4 president and CEO. “As a nation, we’re finally starting to talk about mental health issues and how we can better support individuals and families affected by them. By equipping our communities with Mental Health First Aid training, we increase the number of people who feel comfortable helping their neighbors when they notice someone who may be experiencing a mental health problem.”
C4 co-founded Mental Health First Aid of Illinois as a collaborative community education program. During C4’s MHFA training program, offered in English and Spanish, participants learn potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, trauma, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and self- injury behavior. C4 provides participants with a five-step action plan to teach them how to respond in a mental health emergency and to offer support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress. The five-step action plan includes:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
C4 has expanded its MHFA program to include a youth curriculum designed for those who work with young adults. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) provides information on social, emotional, and behavioral health challenges and disorders. The course is designed to give those working or interacting with young people ages 12–25 a means to identify mental health problems, connect youth with appropriate care, and safely deescalate crisis situations. It is particularly helpful to young adults, such as college students, dealing with transition to adulthood.