Mental Health First Aid in the
College Setting
St. Louis Community College
Innovation of the Year
STLCC-FV Counselors
Troy Hansen, MA, LPC, NCC
Emily Lasek, MA, LPC, NCC
The Problem: Increasing Mental Health
Issues on College Campuses
• In 2004, The Chronicle Of Higher Education reported
on the Mental Health Crisis and what Colleges must
• A significant number of colleges and universities
began eliminating mental health services.
• “Not having basic services increases your risk in our
litigious society.” (Kadison, 2004)
• Recent mental health crises have caused colleges to
reevaluate the need for increasing mental health
American Psychological Association
(APA) reported in 2011…
• In the 2010 National Survey of Counseling Center Directors,
respondents reported that 44 percent of their clients had
severe psychological problems, a sharp increase from 16
percent in 2000.
• While depression and anxiety continually rank high as the
most common mental disorders, there has been increases in
clients with eating disorders (24.3%), self-injury issues (39.4%),
and alcohol abuse (45.7%).
• 91 percent of counseling center directors reported that the
recent trend toward greater numbers of students with severe
psychological problems continues to be true on their
Research shows…
• “Without the proper psychological services, students with
emotional and behavioral problems have the potential to affect
many other people on campus, including roommates, classmates,
faculty, and staff with disruptive and even dangerous behavior.”
• “When students receive help for their psychological problems,
counseling can have a positive impact on academic success,
retention, and personal well-being.”
• “The most recent survey of college counseling center directors
found that 59 percent of clients indicated that counseling had
helped them remain in school and 60 percent stated that
counseling helped improve their academic performance.” (Retrieved March 20, 2012)
• Florissant Valley Counseling Department began looking for
a way to educate faculty and staff on mental health issues.
• In the summer of 2009, Mental Health First Aid was
investigated. At the time, the curriculum was principally
arranged for the public.
• Florissant Valley Counseling Department used grant funds
from the Missouri Department of Transformation to get 9
trainers throughout the district. 5 counselors have been
trained at FV.
• The MHFA workshop trained over 75 STLCC faculty and staff
before FV Counseling faculty created PRD 528. Another
125 individuals have completed the training in the 1 credit
hour format.
Why Mental Health First Aid?
Mental health issues affect all of society in
some way, shape, or form
Through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
anyone can acquire the basic knowledge and
skills to identify and respond to an individual
in distress
In 2001, Betty
Kitchener and Tony
Jorm developed the
Mental Health First Aid
(MHFA) Program at the
Centre for Mental
Health Research at the
Australian National
The concept of first aid
by the public for
physical health crises is
familiar to most of us.
This makes it relatively
easy to extend this
approach to early
intervention by
members of the public
for mental disorders
and crises.
• National Council for
Behavioral Healthcare
• Maryland Department
of Health & Mental
• Missouri Department of
Mental Health
Working in conjunction with SAMHSA for
national unity
12-hour course Participants learn how to:
• Give first aid in a mental health
crisis and/or early stages of
mental illness;
• Identify early stages of mental
health problems;
• Observe signs and symptoms
of the most common mental
health problems;
• Know where and when to get
help; and
• Understand what types of help
have been effective.
MHFA covers the symptoms and risk
factors in
 common mental health issues
 associated mental health crises
Understanding Mental Health
Mental Health Topics
 Depression
 Suicide
 Non-suicidal self-injury
 Anxiety
 Psychosis
 Schizophrenia
 Bipolar Disorder
 Eating Disorders
 Substance Use Disorders
For each topic, we cover
What is…?
Other related disorders
The importance of early
 The MHFA Action Plan for
each mental health issue
 Resources
A. Assess Risk of Suicide
or Harm
L. Listen Nonjudgmentally
G. Give Reassurance and
E. Encourage Person to
Get Appropriate
Professional Help
E. Encourage Self-help
◘ improved recognition of mental disorders
◘ changed beliefs about treatment - more
like those of health professionals
◘ decreased social distance from people
with mental disorders
◘ increased confidence in providing help
◘ an increase in the amount of help
provided to others.
• Florissant Valley Counseling Department saw the
value in offering it to students, especially
students going into helping professions.
• Allowing students to take it as an elective in their
program allowed them to receive a certification
to put on their resume.
• Making it a class also allowed people from
outside the college to take the course. It has
increased participation and allowed STLCC to
receive additional publicity.
The Response…
• FV Counseling has received many letters of support
for Mental Health First Aid from employees and
students who participated in the program. Many
report already using the information.
• Thanks to the Florissant Valley Counseling
Department, St. Louis Community College has been
identified as a major innovator in the effort to raise
awareness of mental illness.
Mentions in the Media
• New York Times Article
Efficiency: The 1 credit hour course (12.5 hours)
is an effective way of raising awareness,
decreasing stigma and empowering individuals
in dealing with mental health issues.
Multiple sections of the course have been
offered each semester. The course has been
completed by Probation & Parole employees,
DYS/Children’s Division employees, Staff of
Normandy School District, BJC Health Care
workers as well as staff, faculty and students of
Cost Effectiveness: The initial training of the
Counselors was supplemented by a grant
through the Missouri Department of
Transformation. Individuals who work for the
college receive the training at no cost. Students
and community members pay and receive 1
college credit to take the course. By opening it
up, there has been a tangible benefit for the
college both by positive publicity and by
generating credit hours.
Replication: The course can be taught by any
qualified instructor who has undergone the MHFA
training. Although FV developed the course, FP has
also offered it for the past 2 semesters. A total of 9
trainers are available throughout the district.
Creativity: The FV Counseling Department was
able to take a professional development
opportunity and turn it into a program which
benefits the campus, district and community.
We have received letters of support from
participants. It is evident by these letters that
the skills learned have been applied both to
everyday life and work scenarios.
Timeliness: Mental illness continues to escalate
as a major concern for colleges and universities
throughout the nation. Thanks to the Florissant
Valley Counseling Department, St. Louis
Community College has been identified as a
major innovator in the effort to raise awareness
of mental illness. It has also received
recognition as being proactive in these issues.
THANK YOU from St. Louis
Community College!

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