Gainesville, Fla. – Utilizing a federal grant, which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designated specifically for the purpose of Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) (due to its proven effectiveness in combatting a range of issues, from addiction, to suicide), Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., along with 19 community partners, will provide highly-specialized training to underserved populations in eight counties.
A subdivision of HHS, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which has its sights set on ending the opioids crisis, awarded the grant to Meridian based upon excellence in administering a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course over the past 8 years. During that time, Meridian granted lifesaving credentials to over 4,000 local residents, credentials that are often described as, “CPR for the mind.”
The majority of those 4,000 individuals (~2,600) received their MHFA certificate in the last two years. That momentum is about to accelerate exponentially, thanks to this $125,000 a year grant. Over the next three years, Meridian will organize 200+ daylong training sessions across Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Hamilton, Marion, Suwannee, and Union counties. An additional 3,000 persons, at least, will come away with the skills necessary to affect positive change throughout North Central Florida.
The expectation is that a fair number of the next crop of trainees will speak solely Spanish, since a big part of this invigoration involves deploying a bilingual instructor and translating the curriculum. No matter the language, participants of the program will learn to: 1) employ crisis de-escalation techniques upon persons identified as having a mental disorder, and 2) educate individuals about mental healthcare providers in the community and establish linkages.