AEDC team members have opportunity to complete Mental Health First Aid training course

  • Published
  • By Deidre Ortiz

A Mental Health First Aid training course was held April 22-23 at the Gossick Leadership Center on Arnold Air Force Base for interested senior leaders, first responders and security personnel at Arnold wanting to receive certification as a mental health first aid responder.

According to Tech Sgt. Alexisa Humphrey, Independent Duty Medical Technician with the Arnold Medical Aid Station, this is the first time that Mental Health First Aid training has been offered at Arnold AFB.

“The 8-hour training is meant to teach you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders,” Humphrey said. “It also gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. In essence, this helps in saving people’s lives.”

Lee Smith, Emergency Management Deputy Chief at Arnold, said he elected to attend the training to increase his knowledge as a potential mental health first responder.

“A person never knows when they may be called upon to help guide someone in distress to the resources they need to get through a mental health crisis,” he said. “The class increased our ability to spot someone who may be developing a mental health issue.”

Smith added that he learned what to look for and about the different types of mental health issues people might experience.

“It taught us about the different signs and symptoms of specific illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar illness, eating disorders and various addictions.”

During one discussion, Humphrey mentioned that in addition to active duty military members or veterans experiencing substance use disorders, it’s important to be aware of issues their spouses may be dealing with.

“Many of the problems I’ve encountered with substance use have tended to be spouses of military members,” she said. “One time I received information about a spouse trying to fill a prescription at several pharmacies in that area.”

Carol Ackley, the training instructor, mentioned 8.1 percent of the population over the age of 12 has a substance use disorder, and 75 percent of the people who develop a substance use disorder do so by the age of 27. A large percentage of substance use disorders are alcohol related, as alcohol use is three times as common as drug use disorders.

Smith noted that this type of training is particularly important for those who work on military bases or work around service members, retired service members and their families.

“I think it’s a huge benefit to have people in any workplace trained in mental health first aid to help those affected and to intervene before things escalate,” Smith said. “It’s especially important to offer this type of training at Arnold Air Force Base to continue building a more resilient workforce. This training complements our Wingman program, which encourages Team Arnold Airmen – including our military, civilian and contractors – to look out for one another, and above all else, remain committed to the Air Force core values.”

Many of the resources provided to the participants of the training can also be used by anyone dealing with mental illness or substance use disorders. These include the following organizations and programs: Mental Health America,; National Council on Alcoholism, and Drug Dependence,; National Council for Behavioral Health,; National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders,; Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration,; American Psychiatric Association Answer Center, 1-888-35-PSYCH (77924); National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255); and the American Psychological Association Public Education Line, 1-800-964-2000.