Faculty and staff on Le Moyne’s campus received MHFA (Mental Health First Aid training) earlier this semester.
Twelve faculty and staff members participated in the latest training that was held on campus, right before the start of the spring semester. The maximum number of people the MHFA foundation allows in a class is thirty people. MHFA classes are taught in either two, four hour blocks or one complete eight-hour stretch.
The most recent MHFA training was instructed by Ann Bersani, Associate Director of Campus Life and Leadership alongside Chelsey Taylor, Administrative Assistant for Le Moyne College Campus Security. In 2018, both Bersani and Taylor were trained to instruct the MHFA training and have taken it over ever since.
According to Bersani, the MHFA training originally came out of a grant from Project AWARE, (Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education), through a community organization for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Two years ago, Anne Kearney, LCSW-R, Dean for Student Development, brought the MHFA training to campus and it’s been growing ever since.
For Bersani and Taylor, the goal of the training was to combat the stigma that so often surrounds mental health. They said people, in general, don’t like to talk about mental health. This training, though, worked to give facility the tools, and the empowerment to normalize talking about those challenges.
“Yes, I’m very passionate about this topic” said Taylor. “Anyone you talk to really feels they get something out of the training. They do feel like it helps them understand disorders better because everyone knows someone who is going through something like this.”
Bersani said that getting participation on campus hasn’t been an issue in the past. “Everyone seems to be very supportive of this program and many faculty and staff across the board have participated in it as well as the RA’s,” she said.
According to Joel Bialek, Audio Visual Systems Specialist for Support Services, who attended the latest training, “the IT department believed that the training was extremely valuable to the support services team because we have a lot of involvement with students.
Bialek shared “Just having the extra awareness and tools to help with our students is important because we put a high value on them.” Bialek said “These are conditions that on the surface can be invisible and it’s not as obvious as someone choking, but if you know what you’re looking for certain things start to pop out.”
For students who are noticing symptoms regarding mental health issues, Taylor stated “The counseling center here on campus is fantastic as well as the RA’s, they are all trained in at least getting you to the help you need.”
Three courses are offered in a calendar year with separate trainings for both students, staff and faculty. No date has been set yet for the next two training, but students, staff and faculty are encouraged to keep an eye out for trainings that will be made available in the upcoming months.