The Salvation Army remains dedicated to assisting survivors and first responders with critical services before, during, and after disaster events. To better their ability to serve, The Salvation Army Southern Territory, in partnership with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, recently hosted a Mental Health First Aid training for many of their Emergency Disaster Professionals and representation from Territorial leadership. The Salvation Army was honored to have Lynn Hennighausen, a National Trainer for Mental Health First Aid, instruct the course. Her expertise and guidance created an engaging environment that fostered many great discussions.
Mental Health First Aid focuses on providing individuals with the skills necessary to be the first line of support for those experiencing mental health and substance use challenges. Participants are taught to recognize and respond to warning signs and to serve as the vital link between a person experiencing a new or worsening mental health challenge and appropriate professional support, self-help, or other support strategies.
As disaster and emergency management professionals are often on the front lines of traumatic events, these skills will be an invaluable addition to their toolset. With this training, teams will not only be able to aid disaster survivors but also provide support to team members both in the field and at home. William Trueblood, Emergency Disaster Services Director for Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi spoke about his class experience. "Learning new ways for disaster professionals to become active agents in communicating with those in need of mental health first aid is a great addition to our response plan that helps all disaster survivors and continues our efforts in doing the most good."
The Southern Territory currently has two instructors trained and certified to teach Mental Health First Aid and will look to add more as the program expands. “I am excited that we are always looking for ways to better care for disaster responders and survivors," said Leon Ferraez, Disaster Training Program Coordinator. "Mental Health First Aid is a great addition to our emergency disaster training program, and I look forward to teaching this course across the Southern Territory this year and beyond.”