The Mental Health First Aid movement – spreading in an increasing number of countries and across the United States – is promoting knowledge about mental health among health professionals and community members alike, who may encounter mental health concerns in the community.

Mental Health First Aid teaches skills to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training helps identify, understand and respond to signs of a substance use problem and mental illnesses. More than 2 million individuals have completed the training across the nation and courses offered in the Dakotas are in high demand.

The course material covers a range of topics: prevalence of behavioral health issues, intervention strategies and information and referral sources. The training structure creates a safe space; allowing for interactive discussion and open dialogue among participants. Role-playing emphasizes the importance of perception and language and enables participants to gain empathy and understanding, which is key in helping eliminate the stigma associated with mental health and substance use conditions.

Michelle Lauckner HeadshotMichelle Lauckner, RN, BA, is a Quality Improvement Advisor for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network. Michelle serves as an instructor for the Mental Health First Aid course and hopes to see the content shared broadly. Michelle stated, “Mental Health First Aid is as important to me as CPR. If someone’s heart has stopped beating and/or they have stopped breathing and you do nothing, they will die.  If you do something – anything – like CPR, you may save a life. MHFA is the same concept. If you are with someone who is in mental distress and you do nothing, that person may go on suffering and may die. MHFA provides tools that may help save a life.”

Lauckner is helping lead MHFA courses, offered free of charge, to healthcare communities served by community access hospitals in North Dakota. This opportunity is made possible through the generous support of University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, Great Plains Quality Innovation Network/Quality Health Associates of North Dakota and the North Dakota State University Rural Leadership Project.

Classes are limited to 20 persons. Those interested may contact Michelle Lauckner at 701-989-6229 or Elicia Jacobson at 701-663-0376 to register.

  • Wednesday, November 4, 2020 – 1:00 pm – 6:30 pm CT
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2020 – 1:00 pm – 6:30 pm CT
  • Wednesday, December 9, 2020 – 7:30 am – 1:00 pm CT

“Mental Health First Aid is important. Chances are we are more likely to come across an acquaintance or loved one experiencing a mental health problem than someone having a heart attack. This is especially relevant as we are months into a global pandemic and heading into the Winter months,” added Lauckner. “While we are excellent at requiring CPR trainings, very few of us have any training or experience on how to help or respond to someone who is having a problem with anxiety, depression, substance use or trauma. I believe this training is more important than ever and I am happy to be an educator and advisor on this important topic. This is an excellent opportunity and an opportune time.” Lauckner concluded.

The Great Plains QIN hosted a Huddle on the topic of Depression in Older Adults. Participants shared their experience with screening tools and ways to identify and assist with treatment of depression among residents, patients, family members and others. The Huddle was recorded. Access the Huddle Recording