Every year, approximately 51.5 million US adults experience a mental health disorder. The ability to access and receive appropriate care and support for a mental health condition is essential to recovery. However, treatment accessibility varies; only half of those with a mental health condition receive treatment. With the incidence rates of mental health conditions much higher than treatment rates, we know providing mental health support is essential for our members. With this need for support comes the need for effective, evidence-based training. We asked our Vice President of Member Services, Michael McMorris, LMSW, NBC-HWC, how Pack Health Advisors are prepared to support their members with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

Why Mental Health First Aid Training? 

“We provide each of our Health Advisors with Mental Health First Aid training, which aims to teach individuals how to respond to a mental health emergency and offer support to those who may appear to be in emotional distress,” shares McMorris, a nearly seven-year veteran of the Pack Health team and a Licensed Master Social Worker. “The skills-based training course teaches trainees about mental health disorders and substance misuse issues.” 

MHFA training topics include depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders. The training also teaches about recovery and resiliency. According to Mental Health First Aid, training focuses on “the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.” (1)

“Reducing the mental health stigma is at the heart of MHFA,” McMorris said. “This training is valuable to dispel myths, present the facts about mental health disorders, and teach that recovery is possible.”

A Long-Standing History of Mental Health Training 

Pack Health has had long-standing existing training and protocols for engaging members with a mental health condition. In addition to thorough, NBC-HWC-accredited training, Pack Health Advisors are also trained on the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale and care escalation protocols. MHFA helps add an additional layer of preparation for Health Advisors.

Pack Health Advisors first completed MHFA training in 2020. After, McMorris and his team saw the need to train all department members in MHFA. “We decided it would be great to have in-house trainers,” McMorris said. “With my social work background, I felt it was important to become certified to provide MHFA training.”

Since McMorris became a certified Mental Health First Aid trainer, Cheyenne Harrison, Director of Health Advising, has also earned her certification. Now, all new Health Advisors receive this training in-house when they join the Pack Health Advising team. “This course helped me feel more prepared to talk to my members who have a mental health condition. It also helped me to be more open about it with friends and family as well,” one Health Advisor shared.

 “We have had members who score high on the depression screening scale or may be struggling with a mental health issue, and they appreciate Health Advisors being prepared to ask the right questions,” McMorris said. “Being there for our members in the way that they need, when they need it, is at the top of our priority list.”

To learn more about our approach to supporting members’ mental health, contact us to schedule a demo.