On Tuesday February 14th , the BNMC Healthy Workplace Initiative hosted a Mental Health First Aid training for its client companies. There were 22 people in attendance from 11 companies, including Walsh Duffield, United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lawley, and Pegula Sports Entertainment.

This nationally recognized training was provided locally by Compeer Buffalo, a non-profit that takes a friendship approach to Mental Health. Its model is nationally recognized and has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the American Psychiatric Association.

Mental Health First Aid training aims to educate the public on how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Upon completion of the training, participants received a certificate, identifying them as Mental Health First Aiders, equipped with the skills needed to reach out, offer help, and support someone who may be experiencing a crisis. Participants also walk away with a simple 5-step action plan in hand to help a colleague, loved one, or neighbor in dealing with a crisis until professional treatment is obtained.

Mental health is the most frequently requested topic among companies in the Healthy Workplace Initiative, and it is unfortunate the depth of local data available that supports this trend. According to the Economic Impact of Poor Health on Our WNY Community, depression alone is 19% prevalent in the Buffalo-Niagara region and costs our local workforce $170 million per year in medical spending and $415.7 million productivity losses each year. These data, combined with the existing stigma surrounding mental health, demonstrate the immediate need for further action to address the well-being of our region. BNMC hosted this training to not only improve mental health literacy among the local workforce, but to also empower collective urgency in combating mental health stigma through harnessing a proactive approach.

In addition to being highly informative and educational on a variety of mental health challenges, the training featured a series of interactive activities to further reinforce course content. One of the most impactful activities involved comparing various mental health challenges with physical health illnesses. Based on a study by the World Health Organization, the rankings demonstrated how mental health challenges can be equally or even more compromising to activities of daily life as physical health challenges, such as vision loss.

Thank you to Walsh Duffield for sponsoring the event!

For more information on Mental Health First Aid Training, please visit http://www.compeerbuffalo.org/mhfa/

Hotlines in Crisis

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

National Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

24-Hour Suicide Prevention Hotline for Erie County 716-834-3131