Staff Trained in Mental Health First Aid

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As part of a three-year grant, the Riverhead Central School District has begun to train all staff in mental health first aid. Trainings started on March 1. 

Trainees attend two four-hour sessions in order to become certified in providing first aid to anyone experiencing mental health distress. Participants learn to identify, understand and respond to critical signs and connect someone in distress with mental health information services. 

The project was brought to the district by Eileen Manitta, director of pupil personnel services and special education, as part of a grant she co-wrote with Guillermo Sandoval, a Riverhead Middle School and High School social worker. The grant was obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in collaboration with the Association for Mental Health and Wellness. It provides for a total of 36 eight-hour trainings to ensure the entire school community is certified in mental health first aid. 

The courses are taught by Alexis Rodgers, a mental health first aid certified trainer, and Sandra Hopkins-Ouedraogo, project director of the Mental Health Awareness Training Project.