County officials are proposing a People Your Health training session

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — As the number of people with mental health situations increases, the Albany County Legislature is proposing to provide a training program for several county mental health first aid departments. During Monday’s session of the Albany County Legislature, the Mind Your Health training program was introduced by Chairman Andrew Joyce and Vice Chairman Wanda Willingham.

Under the legislation, certain employees who are in direct and ongoing contact with the public, or those interested in learning more about mental health first aid, would receive training to identify an individual with a mental health problem. You would also learn the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use problems, how to deal with a person in crisis, and how to connect that person with help.

“Teenagers, young adults and seniors face serious challenges caused by pandemic-related problems,” Willingham said. “The rise in suicide, substance abuse and the chaotic environment of community violence and the isolation of our seniors are just some of the issues facing our citizens today. Mental health first aid training is critical to addressing and recognizing the needs of people suffering from these myriad issues. Many families struggle to deal with people dealing with crises, and well-trained professionals are key to preventing the tragic consequences of these mental health crises.”

“We believe that employers and organizations throughout Albany County should take every step possible to build resilience and the mental, emotional well-being of their employees. But first, we must lead by example,” Joyce said. “I’m proud that Vice Chair Wanda Willingham has launched this important initiative to give our employees the training and tools needed to help everyone adapt and deal with adversity and stress during and after a challenging time to deal with this devastating pandemic.”

Nearly one in five Americans suffers from a mental or behavioral problem that’s diagnosable and almost always treatable, but only a fraction get the treatment they need, according to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. By offering mental health first aid training, lawmakers want to prevent difficult situations from escalating into tragedies.

According to Monday’s resolution, a call for proposals would be issued to find a provider who would offer mental health first aid training either in person or virtually. The training would be conducted within six months of contract signing or within six months of hiring a new employee in a position that was to receive the training.

The training is an extension of the work the Albany County Legislature has been doing to address mental health in the community. In June 2021, the Legislature, in partnership with the County Executive, Sheriff’s Office and Department of Mental Health, launched the Albany County Crisis Officials Responding and Diverting (ACCORD) program in the Hilltowns. ACCORD includes a team of social workers and paramedics trained to deal with mental health and nonviolent emergencies situations where law enforcement is not essential.

Officials are currently working with communities across Albany County to expand the ACCORD program to ensure those dealing with a mental health crisis get the support they need. Monday’s legislation will be referred to the health and staff committees for further review.

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