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Friday, February 21

Brookdale Newsroom

Brookdale Counselors Focus on ‘Mental Health First Aid’

As local residents and families continue to deal with stresses related to superstorm Sandy, Brookdale Community College’s Department of Advising and Counseling is hoping to make a difference.

Department members completed an eight-hour training program in Mental Health First Aid during this year’s annual spring professional development retreat, held on June 3 and 4.

Facilitated by professionals from the Ocean County office of the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, the program trains participants to identify the signs of emotional distress, mental illness and addiction disorders and connect individuals with appropriate support services.

Members of the Department of Advising and Counseling received an official certification from the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) for completing the training program.

The goal of Mental Health First Aid is to improve Americans’ mental health, reduce stigma around mental illness and help people who may be at risk of  self-harm or destructive behaviors by referring them to appropriate treatment, according to NCBH.

Studies have shown that Mental Health First Aid successfully increases help and guidance provided to individuals in need and improves coordination with health professionals about treatment.

The program was made possible by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is funding Mental Health First Aid training sessions in the Sandy impacted counties of Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean. Residents of those counties may be dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and other emotional or mental health issues as a result of the storm.

The training also provides valuable tools for counselors and other professionals in Monmouth and Ocean counties, where heroin use and addiction has surged in recent years.

Members of the Department of Advising and Counseling were joined at the retreat by Jeana Malmros and Christine Forman of the Office of the Dean of Enrollment Development and Student Affairs. Career Services Director Sara McElroy, Student Development and Support Services Director Steve Curto and Advising and Counseling Director Herb Cohen participated as well.

PHOTO: First row, from bottom left: Alice Dressner Erlich, Christine Forman, Natalie Fein, Stacy Olsen from MHANJ, Yesenia Madas. Second row, from left: Laura Miceli, Daijuan Gao, Torina Armstrong, Sara McElroy, Cathy Goode, Ellie Horgan, Jeana Malmros, Steve Curto, Maria Fernandez. Third row, from left: Steve Propert, Dominick Nigro, Fidel Wilson, Brian Oland, Marlena Frank, Herb Cohen.