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Be the Difference

Support those who are in crisis or in need of help

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Purdue Extension has trained
Mental Health First Aid graduates to date
Purdue Extension has trained
Mental Health First Aid graduates to date

Mental Health First Aid is an eight (8) hour course to educate individuals about how to interact with and support someone who may be developing a mental health issue or experiencing a crisis. 

Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid helps participants feel confident providing assistance and support to someone in distress.

Purdue Extension has hosted
MHFA courses to date

Mental Health First Aid is offered by Purdue Extension facilitators. Facilitators are certified to run this evidence-based program by the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Purdue Extension can bring this often life-saving course to your community, organization, or business. No prior training is required.

Purdue Extension has hosted
MHFA courses to date

What Do I Learn?

Mental Health First Aid helps participants:

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of several mental health issues
  • Gain new perspectives about the stigma surrounding mental health struggles
  • Learn how to start conversations with those at risk and to encourage them to seek help
  • Understand available resources for mental health and chemical dependency services

For more information about Mental Health First Aid, visit: www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org

Hear participant testimony:

What Does It Cover?

Adult Courses

Youth Courses

Man sitting alone on a bench
Man sitting alone on a bench
  • Trains adults who want to help other adults
  • Introduces common mental health challenges and contexts
  • Reviews safe action planning steps
  • Covered topics include:
    • Anxiety (including panic attacks)
    • Depression
    • Suicidality
    • Substance Abuse (including opioid misuse)
    • Psychosis
    • Trauma
Mixed race African American teenage female looking sad
Mixed race African American teenage female looking sad
  • Trains ADULTS who interact with adolescents (ages 12-17)
  • Introduces common mental health challenges for the age group
  • Reviews typical adolescent development
  • Covered topics include:
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Substance Abuse (including opioid misuse)
    • Psychosis
    • Disruptive Behavior Disorders (including ADHD)
    • Eating Disorders

Who Should Attend?

Mental Health First Aid is open to any adult who is interested to learn. No prior training or specific education is needed, and all experiences are welcome. Frequent attendees have included concerned family members and friends, faith-based leaders, farmers, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, school personnel, and veterinary providers.

Earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs):

Mental Health First Aid can offer eight (8) contact continuing education hours for certain professionals. Purdue University is an approved provider of Category 1 Continuing Education for all of the following pursuant to Indiana Code 25-1-4-0.2:

    • Mental Health Counselors and Associates
    • Marriage and Family Therapists and Associates
    • Social Workers, Clinical Social Workers and Associates
    • Addiction Counselors, Clinical Addiction Counselors and Associates

All participants receive a certificate upon completion of the full eight (8) hour course. 

Where Are Courses Held?

Both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid are offered in various Indiana counties throughout the year. Please review the list of currently scheduled courses available for signup, and check back often to see new offerings. Registration is required to attend, and cost includes a participant workbook and lunch. To inquire about hosting a course in your area, please Contact Us.

Featured Story

Mental Health Matters

It’s 11:30 a.m. and two coworkers sit down to lunch. One confesses he is going through a divorce and is struggling to cope. After strategic questions and lots of listening, his coworker suspects he may be suffering from depression. She reassures him that it’s common to have these feelings during major life changes, encourages him to spend time with supportive friends, and to seek professional help.

Meet Our Facilitators

Our facilitators offer MHFA courses in their home communities, as well as travel to teach courses throughout the state.

Our facilitators partner with County Extension offices to tailor course material to local needs.

ADULT FACILITATOR TEAM

GINA ANDERSON - Floyd County

TITLE: Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Community Development Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 6

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: All of us struggle with mental health at some point in our lives, whether we realize it or not.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Illustrate Anxiety.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental health conditions affect more people than most realize.

CONTACT: gmanders@purdue.edu

CURT EMANUEL- Boone County

TITLE: Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 30

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: This is an extremely important issue. I see mental health issues affecting families, communities, law enforcement, families, children - all aspects of our society. It is a very serious issue among farmers and farm families, particularly considering the difficult economic environment we are in right now.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Disability Weights Exercise. It is early in the program and can offer something of a "light bulb moment" in helping participants realize just how serious the impacts of mental illness can be for an individual.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental Health disorders are illnesses. They are treatable and recovery is possible. If you attend this course you will learn ways in which you can help individuals in ways which can help them to recover and live fuller, higher-quality lives.

CONTACT: cemanuel@purdue.edu

KELLY HECKAMAN - Kosciusko County

TITLE: Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 24

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a facilitator to use the information to work with the agriculture community and specifically farm families. Mental health and stress are more common that we realize. I have had the opportunity to share this information with agriculture audiences to hopefully make a difference. I have also increased my awareness of mental health and suicide in our society.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: A to Z signs of depression and anxiety. It is a simple activity that shows us we already know so much about disorders while challenging our creativity to come up with something for X and Z.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: MHFA is for anyone in our communities not just professionals who work in mental health. Learning this information is a great opportunity to reduce the negative stigma around mental health. There is help available and there is always hope to return to living, laughing and loving.

CONTACT: kheckaman@purdue.edu

JANE HORNER - Cass County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 5

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I have a passion to support individuals and families experiencing mental health issues. I also want to help eliminate the stigma.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: My favorite activity is the drawing of anxiety.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: That someone's journey to recovery can begin with you just listening and providing reassurance.

CONTACT: horner8@purdue.edu

MOLLY HUNT - Delaware County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 8

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: To help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in my community.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Disability Weights--to see how we support those facing visible vs. invisible disability.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: In any given year, approximately 34% of the 130 million adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health condition or disorder.

CONTACT: hunt55@purdue.edu

KELSEY MEYERS - Henry County

TITLE: 4-H Educator, Health & Human Sciences Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 4

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: To communicate that healing from mental health disorders is not linear.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Disability Weights.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental health matters, so do not be afraid to talk about it!

CONTACT: meyers27@purdue.edu

MARCIA PARCELL- Dearborn County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 12

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a facilitator because the need for mental health awareness continues to increase in my community and state. I also want to help to decrease the stigma of mental health treatment, so less people are suffering in silence. I want people to take care of all levels of wellness in their life to ensure quality of life for themselves and their family. I want to make a difference for Indiana residents of all ages!

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: My favorite MHFA activity is participants putting the impact of various mental illnesses in perspective by comparing them to other well-recognized and less stigmatized illnesses. In this activity, we also discuss how participants react differently to individuals diagnosed with cancer versus a mental illness.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental illnesses can be more disabling than many chronic physical illnesses. Individuals with mental illnesses can recover, when Mental Health First Aid is offered to help and to try to connect them to appropriate services and supports. Mental Health First Aid can prepare you to handle crisis that you may experience in the workplace, community, or any place at any time!

CONTACT: mparcell@purdue.edu

MARILYN SINK - Clark County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 3

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: It's likely that someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem right now. Whether it's a family member, a friend, coworker, or someone else. However, chances are that person may not know how to tell you or be afraid if they tell you how you will react. I want to help individuals and communities understand how to talk about mental health respectfully and responsibly.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: I enjoy reviewing the "What is a standard drink?" worksheet. Many people are surprised to learn what counts as a “standard” drink.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: You don’t have to have all the answers. Small gestures such as listening nonjudgmentally can make a big difference!

CONTACT: msink@purdue.edu

TONYA SHORT - Knox County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 4

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a Mental Health First Aid facilitator because stigma for asking for help should not exist; because people are afraid of the unknown; and because many people want to help but aren't sure how. By teaching Mental Health First Aid, I can do my small part in increasing understanding, reducing fear and stigma, and helping equip everyday people to speak up and be a light in the darkness for someone who just needs to know that someone cares and they are not alone.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: My favorite class activity is the disability weights activity. It really creates a-ha moments for many people as they examine how mental health illnesses can be just as, if not more, disabling than many physical health issues, and that those afflicted with a mental illness need us to rally around them and provide the support just as we would for someone who has been diagnosed with a physical disease.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Potential Mental Health First Aid participants routinely ask, "Is this class for me?" If you are asking that question, then the answer is a resounding yes. Regardless of your occupation, community, or other connections; if you interact with other people, there is a strong chance that you will utilize the skills learned in this course. One of the key tenets of recovery is hope; will you be the one to provide it for someone?

CONTACT: short43@purdue.edu

ANGELA SORG - DeKalb County

TITLE: Health & Human Sciences Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 5

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I have been a Licensed Mental Health Therapist for 20 years. I believe in the power of education and stigma reduction as it pertains to the mental health field. MHFA provides a very practical approach and understanding in what can be a complex subject. I wanted to continue to learn from my co-workers and participants and help open up the lines of communication regarding mental health.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Anxiety Drawing

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: A misconception is that those who suffer from mental illness are somehow at fault or are weak. The exact opposite is true. Individuals who suffer from mental illness are actually very resilient.

CONTACT: asorg18@purdue.edu

STEPHANIE WOODCOX - Administration

TITLE: Assistant Program Leader, Health & Wellness Specialist

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 6

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I believe that mental health is as important as physical health. I would like to see more people talk about and achieve mental well-being.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Video scenario follow up discussions to process course skill applications in the real world.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: I enjoy the participant diversity at courses, as I learn something new each course from their perspectives and life experiences.

CONTACT: swoodcox@purdue.edu

YOUTH FACILITATOR TEAM

JENNIFER ABRELL - Owen County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 1

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I came to Extension after a career as a school counselor. Youth mental health has always been a topic near to my heart. I felt that with my past experience and passion for the topic, I could contribute to the goals of Youth Mental Health First Aid.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: I enjoy the interactive qualities of the YMHFA training. All of the activities that engage the participants are excellent.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: It's important for everyone to know that they can make a difference! You may never see the positive impact you make in a young person's life, but that does not mean you have no impact. You may be surprised, years in the future, when that person returns to say thank you.

CONTACT: jlabrell@purdue.edu

BRITT COPELAND - Brown County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 1

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: Mental Health First Aid is aimed at increasing literacy in people not professionally trained in mental health so that they can help decrease stigma, identify those whose mental health is at risk, have knowledge of the professional resources available, and take action if necessary until professional help can be contacted. I became a facilitator because I wanted to be literate of these issues and have the skill set necessary to maintain a positive learning environment in my 4-H program.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Fact, Fiction or Somewhere in Between: Youth Suicide & Self Inquiry. I like this activity because it allows the participants to physically see the vast differences in peoples' beliefs and knowledge of these topics. It also drives home the point that sometimes black and white answers don't exist when addressing mental health.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: A fun fact about me is that my family and I train therapy dogs. From time to time we take them to the library for story time so children can gain confidence reading aloud to non-judgmental, fluffy companions.

CONTACT: copelanb@purdue.edu

ALICIA CRISWELL - Wayne County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 6

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: After facing my own struggles with an undiagnosed mental health disorder in my youth, I wanted to bring awareness to the importance of mental health and reduce stigma around mental health in my community. It is my goal that no child in my community suffer in silence.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Video testimony from Kevin Hines, offering hope and recovery message.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: We all deserve compassion, empathy and love. I am passionate about mental health and my concern is very genuine.

CONTACT: acriswel@purdue.edu

KIM FRAZIER - Miami County

TITLE: 4-H Educator, Health & Human Sciences Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 19

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: Children and families are my passion. My Master's degree is in Social Work and I came to Extension with 13 years of Social Services experience.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: I enjoyed my experience being trained with terrific trainers! I hope to be as skilled in this as they are!

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Taking care of ourselves first is one of the best ways to maintain our mental health.

CONTACT: frazierk@purdue.edu

ANGIE FROST - State Office

TITLE: 4-H Healthy Living Specialist

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 5

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: To better understand youth mental health and the issues youth currently face. I wanted to help others understand as well so that all of us can be well prepared to help any youth in need.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: Drawing activities to depict what typical adolescent development looks like.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental health is just as important as physical health and should not be ignored. The more we talk about mental health as an illness, the less stigma will be associated with the topic.

CONTACT: alfrost@purdue.edu

CARLA KIDWELL - Warrick County

TITLE: 4-H Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 21

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a facilitator because I feel mental health is an important topic in my community.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: The Youth Mental Health First Aid curriculum has several hands on activities, and I like most of them. But my favorite is the Fact or Fiction activity.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: I am very interested in raising awareness around mental health in order to reduce stigma.

CONTACT: kidwellc@purdue.edu

JENNIFER MAYO - Spencer County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION:

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: 

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: 

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: 

CONTACT: allen393@purdue.edu

MARYJO MONCHESKI - LaPorte County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 3

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a facilitator because I want to change the stigma around mental health issues and disorders, especially in our young people. I have worked with a lot of youth in AZ and IN, mostly teens, who become comfortable in safe places such as camp and begin sharing their story with you. It's important to know how to respond when they share their story, how to listen non-judgmentally, and how to serve as a bridge to professional resources. I wish I had this training in the beginning of my career.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: I enjoy the role-play activity because it allows participants to start practicing what they are hearing and seeing. It helps teach them how to be comfortable in approaching a youth in crises.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental health issues and disorders affects everyone, even the youth that appear to be excelling in all avenues of life. It's important to check in with our young people and make sure everything is okay in their life. We never know who may be needing first aid if we don't ask. When I need a mental health day, I head to the woods, either on horseback or on foot with my Cattle Dog, Gunner. Our favorite spot is Kemil Beach in Indiana Dunes National Park!

CONTACT: mmonches@purdue.edu

KELSIE MULLER - Benton / Warren County

TITLE: 4-H Educator, Health & Human Sciences Educator, County Extension Director

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 10

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: I became a facilitator because I want to make a difference in the area of mental health and youth particularly. The more education each of us has about mental health and skills for what we can do if we know someone in need the better. This program opens up the door for conversation and action by those who work with youth.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: In the youth course participants draw a young person to represent the ages and stages of youth development, there are some really creative characters developed in this activity.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: I believe we can all make a difference in someone's life.

CONTACT: kmuller@purdue.edu

AMY RUMSCHLAG - Adams County

TITLE: 4-H Educator

YEARS AT EXTENSION: 13

WHY I BECAME A FACILITATOR: Working with youth is such a rewarding yet very hard field of work. Young people are dealing with so much these days surviving their way through childhood, including various mental health issues. I chose to become a facilitator to gain a better understanding of mental health and how we can help create environments and outlets for these youth so that they indeed thrive throughout their childhood and teenage years to develop into capable, competent adults who can truly face anything.

FAVORITE MHFA ACTIVITY: My favorite Mental Health First Aid activity is the Auditory Hallucination. This is an empathy building activity that allows participants to experience what it might be or feel like to have an auditory hallucination. This activity had me in tears when I experienced it for the first time, was such an eye opening experience for me and those who have experienced it.

ONE THING FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW: Mental Health is all around us and every single one of us knows someone who has or is dealing with mental health issues; sometimes we may not be aware of those struggling. We a community I hope we can begin to:

  • Talk Openly About Mental Health
  • Educate Yourself And Others
  • Be Conscious Of Language
  • Show Compassion For Those With Mental Illness
  • Choose Empowerment Over Shame
  • Be Honest About Treatment Together

We can stomp the stigma of Mental Health and make this world a better place for all.

CONTACT: amyjohnson@purdue.edu

Contact Us

If you have questions for Purdue Extension about a Mental Health First Aid course or about hosting a course in your community, please complete the form below, or e-mail mhfa@purdue.edu

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