Addressing Rural Mental Health Needs

October 5, 2018 By David Meany
Aerial shot of downtown Spokane

The scenario is sadly familiar: You might be walking down the street in Spokane and encounter someone who is clearly experiencing a serious emotional disturbance or suffering from mental illness. You want to help, but you don’t know how, so you pass by and hope somehow the person gets the help they need.

A new federal grant awarded to the Eastern Washington Area Health Education Center (EWAHEC) will make more people equipped to handle such unfortunate situations.

The EWAHEC has been awarded a three-year $375,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will support teaching efforts in numerous rural counties to give people the skills to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Funds from the SAMHSA grant will be used to hire three regionally-based trainers who will be certified to teach both adult and youth Mental Health First Aid,” said Krista Loney, EWAHEC director and author of the grant.

Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based curriculum of the National Council for Behavioral Health.  It teaches people risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.

“The grant will provide 106 trainings per year in the 15 rural counties of eastern Washington.  While training is focused on first responders, veterans, educators and school personnel, it is open to any resident who wants to take the course.”

Counties served by this grant include Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman.

For questions, please contact Krista Loney, EWAHEC Director, at 509.828.1381 or kloney83@ewu.edu.

Additional resources