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Nursing Students Certify in Mental Health First Aid

December 7, 2017

On Saturday, December 2, 34 CNR nursing students added their names to the growing list of “Mental Health First Aiders” trained to respond to mental health and substance use crises. The training is part of ThriveNYC, a mental health action plan launched in 2015 by New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray to increase awareness of mental health challenges, encourage early intervention, and address the way in which mental health services are delivered.

The eight-hour certification training session reviews common mental health crises and teaches de-escalation techniques. Coordinated by nursing student Amorita R. Davidson, Dr. Dorothy Larkin, professor of nursing, and Dr. Debra Geiger, assistant professor of nursing, the program gives students an opportunity to obtain a three-year certification from the National Council of Behavioral Health that allows them to assist patients and families in clinical sites across New York City. Thrive NYC’s goal is to certify 250,000 New Yorkers in mental health first aid techniques.

Nursing Classroom at CNRThe on-campus training session was led by Mamunur Rahman of the NYC Department of Health. During the session, students learned about mental health illnesses, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and substance use disorder. Students used role-playing exercises and activities to identify aspects of mental illness and experience the overwhelming symptoms of psychosis.

"After participating in this training earlier in the semester, I recognized how valuable the information is in identifying and assisting with crises not only with our patients, but also with close friends and family,” said Davidson. “I knew that we needed as many nursing students as possible to have the opportunity to take part."

Following the success of the first program, the College will host a second session in December that focuses on common mental illnesses that occur in childhood and adolescence and the de-escalation techniques that first-aiders can use.