Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Meets Aggressive Goal for Mental Health Training
Jun 23, 2015, 02:02 ET
HARRISBURG, Pa., June 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, today, announced that the agency has completed an aggressive initiative to train every employee in Mental Health First Aid in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
"Over a year ago, I tasked my training academy director and my Psychology Office staff with training each and every DOC employee in the area of Mental Health First Aid within one year," Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said. "With more than 15,000 employees, this certainly was a task that many had thought was unachievable."
Wetzel said that DOC Training Academy Director Michael Dooley and his staff took the challenge head on.
"I am extremely pleased and proud to report that we have trained all DOC employees as of March 31, 2015," said Wetzel. "This is yet another example of a dedicated staff, in the face of many challenges, pulling together, seeing the end goal and getting the job done."
Moving forward, new DOC employees will receive the course during their basic training.
Similar to traditional First Aid and CPR, Mental Health First Aid is assistance provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves.
"All too often we find that those incarcerated suffer from mental health issues. It is important that all parts of the justice system know how to identify the signs of mental illness and how to respond appropriately. That is why the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has and will continue to fund these programs," said PCCD Chairman Josh Shapiro.
Employees complete an eight-hour training program that teaches them a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions and secure appropriate care for an individual experiencing a mental health problem. They also learn risk factors and warning signs of mental illness and about available mental health treatments.
The National Council oversees Mental Health First Aid nationally and credentials trainers. The DOC had 35 employees trained by the National Council to deliver the program in March 2014, and the DOC was the first organization to obtain and administer the new law enforcement version of the program. These staff trainers, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, were deployed throughout the state prison system to plan and implement the program between April 2014 and March 2015.
The MHFA trainers were formally recognized for their dedication and commitment to meeting this challenging goal at the May 6, 2015, DOC Employee Awards Ceremony.
Corrections agencies seeking information on this program should contact DOC Training Academy Michael Dooley at (717) 364-9070. Reporters should contact the DOC Press Office.
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan McNaughton, (717) 728-4025 (DOC)
Susan Bensinger, (717) 728-4026 (DOC)
Matt Leonard, (717) 695-1324 (PCCD)
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency
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