Training Helps Avert Mental Health Crisis

Mental health problems can affect anyone. Research has shown that one out of five people have a mental health problem at some point in their life. Early intervention is the key to minimizing the risk of a mental health problem escalating to a crisis. CHI Franciscan Health and community partners across Pierce County launched the Prevent-Avert-Respond, or PAR, Mental Health Initiative in 2016 to address this growing community need.

One component of the initiative involves providing free training to individuals who live or work in Pierce County. The training teaches them how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The Mental Health First Aid curriculum was developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health. During the eight-hour training, attendees acquire the skills to provide immediate help to someone who is developing a mental health problem or who is in a mental crisis, such as having suicidal thoughts.

“As a psychologist, I know firsthand how important it is to identify the early signs of a serious mental health issue,” says Karen Hye, PsyD, who is a Mental Health First Aid instructor. She says that Mental Health First Aid is not meant to take the place of a trained professional. Instead, the course teaches “regular people” to identify

the signs of a crisis. It gives them tools that can help stabilize an individual in crisis and connect them to appropriate care and support.

Mental Health First Aid is often compared with CPR training, says Monet Craton, director of the PAR initiative. The more people who are trained and prepared, she says, the more often interventions can occur. The training is particularly helpful for people who regularly interact with a wide range of the public, such as those in social services, the court system and education. As of this writing, more than 4,000 people in the county have been trained.

Mental Health First Aid sessions will be offered by CHI Franciscan Health through May 2019. To enroll in a session or arrange training for your organization, contact Monet Craton at


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CHI Franciscan Health

Mental Health First Aid