Free Mental Health Training Program Receives Extended Life From Local Doctors

Submitted. Mission’s Division of Family Practice, a consortium of our local doctors, has stepped forward to continue a highly successful and free mental health training program. Community Cares: Mental Health Response Training was created in early 2013 with the aim of registering approximately 100 students, but that goal has been more than tripled. As a result, the course is now being extended until at least December 31st, 2013.

“This program was intended for people in Mission and the Fraser Valley,” explains course developer Paul Horn, “But there is clearly a broader demand. We have had an incredible response from around the province and many have asked us to keep it going.”

Community Cares was developed to serve anyone who needs to respond to others experiencing mental health crisis. “That could be a person who is suicidal, using substances, acting out, getting in trouble, or simply withdrawing from friends and family,” says Horn. “Mental health needs are not rare, so we all need to be able to recognize them and know how to respond.”

“The desire to inform the public is what motivated the Division of Family Practice to support the training’s extension,” explains Jonathan Wilkins, the Division’s Executive Director. “Most people only think about their doctor or health care when they are sick, but our physicians are keenly interested in helping their patients prevent and recognize mental health symptoms.”

Community Cares was designed to be completely accessible. Anyone with access to the Internet can take the program for free. The course includes 8 separate modules, each 3 hours long, and students can design the course to fit their needs. “They can take just one module or all eight if they like, in whatever order and at whatever times they prefer,” says Horn. “I go on-line to check on students and I see that some of them are taking the course in the middle of the night.”

The course will continue to be delivered on-line in partnership with Mission Public Schools and Summit Learning Centre. Getting started is a simple as registering at Students receive certification for completing specific modules or the entire course.

“We are excited to support this program,” says Dr. Carol Pomeroy, a Mission physician and member of the Division of Family Practice. “Mission may be small, but it has some very progressive thinking in the medical community. Our Division works hard to address Mission’s unique needs and we see this program as a great fit.”

One of the program’s aims is to get more doctors, paramedics, police officers, and medical professionals actively enrolled. “We have succeeded in engaging Mission, but now we have to get more professional first responders involved,” says Cynthia Coyle, Executive Director of Fraser House, the project’s lead partner. “We designed it to fit their busy schedules and to ensure that it contained content that would really add to their professional practice.”

The original project was funded through a $45,000 grant from Community Action Initiatives, a provincial granting program. The CAI is a funding body created through a $10M contribution from the province of British Columbia. The CAI supports projects developed through collaborative community models that promote inclusive community action to respond to mental health and substance use.

Divisions of Family Practice are groups of physicians organized at the local or regional level who work to address common health care goals. This initiative was designed to improve patient care, increase family physicians’ influence on health care delivery and policy, and provide professional satisfaction for physicians. Mission was one BC’s first communities to create a Division.

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