Free virtual training to help someone who might be in emotional distress

Seven Mental Health First Aid training sessions in February and March
Thu, 02/04/2021 - 5:30pm

The following was sent to The Block Island Times by Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Washington County:

Anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and substance use are some of the more obvious warning signs that someone in your life – a youth, family member, work colleague, best friend, veteran – might be in emotional distress.

You can help, says Michael Cerullo, who coordinates Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) classes for Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Washington County (HBHM).

“Just like CPR, you’ll learn how to see when someone is in trouble, and how to respond. And like CPR, you just might save a life.

“Take a training,” Cerullo encourages. “They are always free, they’re no more than eight hours, and you don’t need previous health or mental health experience.”

And now you can take the trainings from the comfort of home.

For the past six years, HBHM and the Washington County Coalition for Children ran all trainings in person, at schools for teachers, at hospitals for medical staff, and in other physical settings.

“We’ve had to design a remote option because of COVID,” acknowledges HBHM Director Susan Orban. “But people like this new format!”

“The new model falls into two parts. Part A is entirely self-paced. You study a group of on-line materials for roughly two hours at any times that work for you. Part B is instructor-led on Zoom on set dates, with peers who want to help others like you do,” Orban says.

Trainings are open to anyone who lives or works in Washington County.

Two types of trainings are offered in February and March to benefit youth and adults.

Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds tailors different classes towards different target populations, Cerullo explains.


February and March Mental Health trainings:

“On February 12, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., for example, we offer Part B of a Youth Mental Health First Aid training. It will focus on the needs of young people. It’s a great class for educators, parents, youth group and scout leaders, and others who spend lots of time with kids.”

When people register for the training, they will be given links for the self-study portion of the training, notes Cerullo.

In addition to the February 12 Youth MHFA training, there will be four more YMHFA Part B trainings:

• Friday, February 26, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Tuesday, March 9, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Friday, March 19, 2-8 p.m.
• Tuesday, March 23, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cerullo says that Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds is also offering two Part B sessions of Adult Mental Health First Aid training:

• Monday, March 1, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Saturday, March 13, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“This training is for everyone who cares about the impact of mental health challenges on our adult friends, family, and colleagues,” he reports. The training includes identifying signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, and addictions. The course offers types of early intervention in such cases, as well as self-care strategies, adds Cerullo.

Visit youth-mental-health-first-aid/ to see future trainings.

Interested people can contact Donna Greene for more information or to register for either course. She can be reached at (401) 788-2371 or email at


Trainings are free, thanks to a federal grant

“We can offer MHFA courses for free thanks to a generous three-year federal SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant,” Orban reports.

For more information contact: Susan Orban, (401) 626-7529.