The Value of Collaboration – Highlighting Mental Health First Aid

Jan 15, 2019

Mental and Behavioral Health is a key priority area for the Jefferson Community Collaborative. The idea of a mental health first aid program was also the product of the Collaborative. The program, which was seeded with grant from the Jefferson Regional Foundation, offers youth and adults free basic mental health training to help deepen their understanding of mental illness and reduce the stigma associated with it.

The Jefferson Community Collaborative convenes five times each year through its annual member meetings – at each meeting, the 90+ participants have the opportunity to become certified as a Jefferson Area mental health first aid trainer, host a training at their organization, or attend a training session.

Because of the Collaborative’s efforts, nearly 1,000 people in the Jefferson region have received basic mental health training in just four years. “It has been hugely successful,” said Candy Vasquez, behavioral health project coordinator for Allegheny HealthChoices, which administers the program.

“The opportunity to network, brainstorm, collaborate, form partnerships, and share knowledge and practices not only helps to improve the effectiveness and capacity of community services in the region, it also broadens the impact of the Jefferson Regional Foundation’s grantmaking,” said Mary Phan-Gruber. “When we address an issue with the Collaborative, we get a lot more bang for the buck.”


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