Peer Support Coalition of Florida Launches Mental Health Training Program
by RYAN MILEJCZAK
Healthcare workers face difficult mental health challenges in their day-to-day lives. Long working hours, irregular schedules, stressful environments, and exposure to suffering can take a toll on their mental health.
The Peer Support Coalition of Florida, an Orlando area nonprofit, is acknowledging those challenges with its Medical Professional Mental Health Awareness Training Program. The Coalition is expanding the program, previously available solely for peer specialists, to the healthcare community at large.
With the help of a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, the organization hopes to prepare healthcare workers for these challenges. They’re launching this new project to train healthcare workers to better recognize and deal with mental health challenges in themselves, their co-workers, and their patients.
According to Project Coordinator Allison Shenson, healthcare providers are a gateway to mental health support for all of us.
“We all go to a doctor at least once a year,” says, “so healthcare providers have the perfect opportunity to be able to notice someone who might need help.”
The program will be open to anyone working in health care anywhere in the state of Florida. This includes physicians, nurses, medical assistants, front desk staff, and more. It consists of three separate training courses — Mental Health First Aid, Emotional CPR, and An Orientation of WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) — each led by a certified trainer.
- Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour program designed to teach how to identify, understand, and respond to the signs of those struggling with mental health and substance use challenges. The training is available in-person or online and takes a total of eight hours across up to four sessions.
- Emotional CPR, or eCPR, is a program designed to teach people how to assist those experiencing an emotional crisis. The eCPR program takes six hours total, with a two-hour pre-recorded presentation watched online at the learner’s own pace and one four-hour live virtual session.
- The Orientation of WRAP program helps individuals discover tools to create and maintain wellness and stay in control in times of crisis. This program takes eight hours total and consists of a two-hour pre-recorded presentation watched online at the learner’s own pace and three separate two-hour live virtual sessions.
The Peer Support Coalition of Florida has previously provided these courses, but only to peer support specialists. The recent grant allows the Coalition to bring its knowledge and experience to a wider audience of healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers will be able to take just one or all three training courses. Those who complete all three courses will become certified as a Well-being Ambassador, equipped to make a positive difference in their work and personal lives and beyond. Certified Ambassadors will be able to engage in monthly meetings and training to refresh knowledge and connect.
The first Mental Health First Aid course will begin in July, while eCPR and Orientation to WRAP will begin in August.
Shenson has high hopes for the new program.
“We all struggle at one point or another, and we could all have benefited in our lives from someone taking the time and care to notice. The hope is to empower people with more knowledge and practical skills to support someone who’s experiencing a mental health challenge. And it doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating, we all struggle with it,” Shenson says.
“Normalizing it and educating people will be really effective. Hopefully, the healthcare community will feel like they’re more equipped to take care of themselves in a profession that’s so challenging.”
To Learn More
You can find out more about the Peer Support Coalition of Florida and the courses at peersupportfl.org. You can also contact Allison Shenson at email@example.com or (407) 292-2803 ext. 102.