HHCC partnering with Southern Iowa Mental Health to bring first aid training to residents

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Healthy Henry County Communities is partnering with Southern Iowa Mental Health in Ottumwa to bring a mental health first aid training to community members.

Healthy Henry County Communities (HHCC) coordinator Kelly Carr said that in conversations with high school students and mental health professionals in the community, people are struggling with stress, anxiety and a lack of coping skills. Through this free training opportunity, Carr said that she hopes residents can learn valuable skills to help guide someone through a mental health crisis.

?Knowing CPR can help someone. (Mental health training) is the same thing. It gives you different strategies to help someone through a panic attack or substance abuse problem,? Carr said during the HHCC board meeting on Tuesday, March 6.

Henry County Coordinator of Disability Services (CDS) Sarah Berndt said that she has attended an adult and law enforcement training and found the information good and practical. ?The trainers are vetted,? she said. ?I think it?s a valuable program.?

The training is a one-day, eight-hour course and can be used as a continuing education unit (CEU). Trainers try to keep each class to 30 participants. They will be offering separate courses for adults and children. While the class doesn?t have a firm date yet, it will be offered on a Tuesday or Friday in May or June.

As HHCC continues to focus on improving mental health in the community, Carr discussed how lately in HRSA grant meetings the board has had a strong mental health focus and have a strong mental health presence on the action team. HRSA is a $1 million grant that was awarded to the county in August 2017.

HHCC is continuing to learn about the grant and implement strategies into the community, with Lori Bolin and Carr attending a rural-health focused conference in Maryland last week to dialogue with other recipients of the HRSA grant.

Speaking with people in year six of their HRSA grant, Bolin said that she was reassured the programs the HRSA action team in Henry County is putting in place will take off.

?We?re on the right track,? Bolin said. ?We have not hit any huge stumbling blocks. One of the speaker?s topics was engaging local partners and I thought, ?That?s exactly what we?re doing.? A lot of affirmations for me.?

While a lot of the other grant recipients were dealing with establishing a trust network of community partners, Carr said that Henry County is lucky to have an already-established network. ?We?ve got a proven track record of doing good work in the community,? she said.

The next focus for HRSA will be to measure the data through survey questions handed out to the community. HHCC board members were asked to distribute the surveys in their workplace or other areas of the community they are involved in.

In other news, HHCC did not meet the deadline to apply for the Wellmark Foundation grant in partnership with the Mt. Pleasant Middle School to replace the tennis courts with a pickleball court. Carr said that in conversations with school administrators, they came to the conclusion that there were too many moving parts to get the application ready in two weeks.

Carr said they will wait until next year to apply for the Wellmark grant. Since they announced they were interested in building a pickleball court in Mt. Pleasant, however, Carr has received feedback from community members who want to be involved in the fundraising process.