MHFA newsletter - August 2016

Message from Denise- Forests and Trees

As you are reading this you, hopefully, you’ve all attended one of the Linden Oaks MHFA Consortium “Mini-Refresher” courses that we held this summer.  Our goals in holding the classes were to provide you with the new curriculum materials provide some updates about teaching tips and Consortium news and look at the “big picture” of MHFA themes.  I know you’ve all heard me mention several times how much I learned from sitting through the most recent instructor certification course held in June 2015.  While I feel very comfortable with the material and in fact with most of the information on the slides (I look at them a lot!), I hadn’t spent much time stepping back and looking at the big picture for MHFA.  I’ve been challenged this past year to make sure that I see the “forest” and not just the “trees” for our MHFA classes.  Especially for those instructors trained in the 12 hour MHFA curriculum, the “trees” sometimes get in the way of seeing the “forest”.  Here’s what I mean:  in the 12 hour course we had lots of time to provide information about the different diagnoses.  And I think we were encouraged to explain a lot.  With 8 hours, however, there just isn’t time to discuss as many details/”trees”.  

Here are some suggestions for getting back to seeing the “forest”.  Keep in mind that a first aider’s job is to notice and offer assistance/options.  Noticing a problem doesn’t mean having to understand the reasons behind why the problem is occurring or all the specifics of the problem.  First aiders just need to recognize that the person is experiencing distress and offer assistance.  In teaching MHFA, we need to encourage our attendees’ awareness of what distress looks like in different settings and situations.  What does depression related irritability look like at home or in the office?  How can someone recognize when a friend or loved one is having difficulty controlling use of a substance?  Help attendees put words to the ALGEE action plan.  When we offer reassurance to someone having a panic attack, what does it sound like?  What actions can first aiders take that convey dignity and respect even when someone is agitated, intoxicated or doesn’t seem to want help?  ALGEE is an action plan detailing skills that need to be practiced.

Let me finish with a wide angle view of our MHFA work.  During the first half of 2016, our Consortium has trained 757 individuals in MHFA and 202 people in Youth MHFA.  We’ve provided 58 classes in 35 settings, 13 of these are first time MHFA class sponsors/hosts.  Since the inception of our Consortium, we have trained 7553 individuals in some type of MHFA class.  In Illinois 24166 people have been trained as of April 2016.  Thanks for being part of the team that has trained almost a third of the people in Illinois.  Let’s keep moving forward to reach the 10,000 trained mark for the Linden Oaks Consortium.





Instructor Corner- Fay Jackson, LCSW, CADC Opening of Hinsdale Office

Fay Jackson is the Supervisor for outpatient programs at Linden Oaks at Hinsdale.  She shares information with us about services available at Linden Oak’s newest location, Hinsdale. 


Linden Oaks Hinsdale opened its doors in their beautiful brand new facility on July 18, having moved from their former location at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.  The address is 8 Salt Creek Lane, Hinsdale, IL 60521. Telephone 331-221-2520.  Services available in Hinsdale include the following. 

Adult Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Program
Partial Hospitalization, PHP, is a 6-hour day group therapy program which meets Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am until 2:30 pm. This provides patients maximum care to address mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, mood disorder, psychosis, dual diagnosis, while allowing them to spend nights and weekends at home. Intensive Outpatient Program, IOP, also meets Mon-Fri, and is a 3.5-hour day group therapy program starting at 8:30am and ending at 12:00pm.  Patients receive daily group therapy interventions that include psychoeducational classes, skills building, deep relaxation, and psychotherapy facilitated by licensed clinicians. Patients also receive family therapy and individual psychotherapy. These programs are also staffed by a psychiatrist and nurse practitioner for medication management.

Adolescent Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Program
These programs are for adolescents’ ages 12 through 18.  Partial Hospitalization, PHP, is a 6.5-hour day group therapy program which meets Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm. This provides patients maximum care to address mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, school refusal, PTSD, mood disorder, psychosis, dual diagnosis, while allowing them to spend nights and weekends at home. Intensive Outpatient Program, IOP, also meets Mon-Fri, and is a 3-hour day group therapy program starting at 8:00am and ending at 11:00am.  Patients receive daily group therapy interventions that include psychoeducational classes, skills building, deep relaxation, and psychotherapy facilitated by licensed clinicians. Patients also receive family therapy and individual psychotherapy. PHP patients have one hour per day of school tutoring during the school term provided by a qualified school teacher, and our school liaison works with the family and the school to facilitate the adolescent’s transition back to school.  These programs are also staffed by a psychiatrist and nurse practitioner for medication management.

Substance Use Disorder Intensive Outpatient Programs
The Adult Substance Use IOP program meets Monday through Thursday from 6pm until 9pm. The Adolescent Substance Use IOP program meets Monday through Thursday from 3:30 until 6:00pm. Patients receive psychoeducational classes, abstinence support and relapse prevention skills. These programs are also staffed by a psychiatrist for medication management, including Suboxone management.  

Rethink Program
This is an education and prevention program for adolescents who have demonstrated substance use behaviors and may be at risk for school suspension. We work with schools to mitigate possible consequences and we educate students and parents regarding substance use and risks.  This program is provided free of charge for families.

Assessment & Referral Center
The Assessment and Referral Center offers individuals free behavioral health assessments and referrals without the wait in the hospital emergency room for a behavior assessment. The center is staffed with licensed clinicians trained to assess for anxiety, depression, mood disorder and substance abuse for adolescents and adults. Full behavioral health assessments are available five days a week.

Linden Oaks Medical Group 
Linden Oaks Behavioral Health recognizes the need to provide comprehensive behavioral health services to our community. That's why we established Linden Oaks Medical Group—a team of experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, physician assistants, advanced practice psychiatric nurses and counselors/therapists, who specialize in adolescent and adult behavioral health services.  The care team provides both medication management and outpatient counseling services.  Patients receiving counseling services usually meet once or twice a week for talk therapy.  By adding these services Linden Oaks is able to support patients on their ongoing individual journey to wellness.
For appointments and more information about Linden Oaks Medical Group please call 331-221-2505.




MHFA FAQ’s: What’s up with recertification?

Trina and I are asked this question a lot.  As instructors you want to know if you have met the three class requirement by your anniversary date.  But recertification also applies to people who have taken an MHFA class.  When you take a CPR class your certification is good for two years and then you need to take the class (or a version of the class) again.  Likewise with MHFA, the certification lasts for three years.  The National Council suggests that participants recertify (take another MHFA class) every three years to maintain their MH First Aider status.  Since our Consortium has been offering classes since 2010 some of our initial class participants are now eligible to retake the class and renew their certifications.  Trina has been contacting past participants and suggesting that they recertify.  This has been a successful marketing strategy on our end and might be for you also.  Think about some of the groups you might have trained several years ago, approach them and suggest a recertification class.  Of course if you set up the class, you are one of the instructors for that class.  And that’s one class closer to your recertification as an instructor.

In regards to instructor recertification:  you are required to teach three MHFA courses within one calendar year of your anniversary date.  If you are certified in both Youth and Basic MHFA you must have taught at least one class of each curriculum to maintain that certification.  For example if you have both a youth and adult certification you will need to teach either 2 adult and 1 youth or 1 adult and 2 youth classes to maintain a certification in both.  The National Council ( monitors the recertification process for instructors.  If you need to request an extension for any reason you will need to complete the MHFA Extension Form (found on the national website) explaining the reason for the extension request and a date that you will have completed the required classes.  This past year the National Council has been more rigorous in monitoring the instructor certification procedure.  Most of you have anniversary dates of May 5, June 12, July 1 or January 1.  If you aren’t sure what your anniversary date is you can find it when you login to the national mhfa website or contact us.  Please don’t wait until the last minute to try to complete the three course requirement.  Better yet – work to market MHFA with organizations, groups, businesses etc. that you know.  We do track your classes and do our best to make sure that you are all offered enough opportunities to meet the class requirements.




Curriculum Corner: Drawing on each other’s experiences

One of the best aspects of this job is observing each of you teach.  Although we all use the same material, each of us brings something slightly different to the classes we teach.  Each of us highlights slightly different teaching points (since there are so many to choose from).  Lucky me – I get to borrow all the good stuff I observe you do and incorporate it into my instruction opportunities.

With the years of MHFA teaching experience and the life experience within our Consortium, this fall we will initiate Quarterly Networking meetings to provide an opportunity to learn from each other.  These meetings will be held at various locations and on different days and times.  We will feature different discussion topics that can range from:  how to market or promote MHFA classes; presentation skills; or a deeper dive into a particular section of the course or a specific teaching module.  My role during these sessions is to facilitate your learning and sharing with each other.  We have a lot of great wisdom to give each other.

Our first Quarterly Meeting will take place at the Linden Oaks facility on Mill Street in Naperville on September 9, 2016.   We will be discussing how to promote MHFA and set up classes to meet your three class requirement.  



MHFA Spotlight: Dorothy Papachristos  

As a community activist for over 40 years, Dorothy has worked with gang-involved youth for over 25 years.  Her commitment extends to being a foster family for gang-involved youth while raising her 2 children who are now both in the teaching profession.  Dorothy started a non-profit organization, Communities Dare to Care in 1990.  The organization’s mission is to reconnect youth to their homes, schools and communities rather than gangs.  Communities Dare to Care created programs such as presentations on gangs and violence, basketball programs, anger management, bullying prevention, auto mechanics, mentoring, tutoring, crisis intervention, educational advocacy, and assistance in finding legal help.   Dorothy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern Illinois University and her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University.  Her deepest love and challenge, is working with troubled youth, to make a difference in the lives of youth and their parents. Dorothy is a retired Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer and brings with her a deep commitment and vast experience in the Cook County Court system.  Since Dorothy participated in the first MHFA Instructor training course, MHFA has become an equal love to Dorothy.  Dorothy believes that her MHFA instructor role enables her to train others to understand mental illness and the stigma that society associates with it.  Dorothy’s MHFA training provides her with a better understanding of how to assist those in her community by referring them to the proper people for help and assistance.  For enjoyment, Dorothy likes walking, flea markets, estates sales, reading and being involved in her church and community. 



Teaching Tips: How to make slides come alive

Everyone in our consortium now has at least one year of teaching experience and has utilized the materials at least 3 times.  Hopefully you are all feeling more comfortable with the material and content of the class.  Now might be the time to tweak your powerpoint presentation skills.  There is a lot of content packed into the 8 hour class and it can be a challenge to share everything you want to discuss especially when you have a talkative and engaged class. So how can you use the slides to your advantage?  My first suggestion is to spend some time going through the slides in the sections that you will teach.  How do the slides initially come up on the screen?  Does all of the information show up right away or does it come up as individual bullet points or in sections?  How can you use this to enhance teaching?  You might not need to discuss each bullet point on any given slide.  Instead you can ask people what stands out to them or what they might have questions about.  Pick a couple of bullet points that you would like to highlight and discuss those.  An even cooler thing to do with the slides is find the slides that have information pulled directly from the participant manual (for example the first slide with information on psychosis (page 56 in the participant manual).  As an attendee is reading the information out loud click on the bullet points.  It looks really sharp and conveys that you are on your game as an instructor.  Another important powerpoint skill is knowing when to blank the screen to encourage discussion prior to making your point.  Then you can bring the slide up to reiterate what has just been discussed (we do a similar thing with the “Shaky Man” slide).  If you have any suggestions about how to use the slides to enhance teaching techniques please pass them along.  These are the little extras that do help to enhance the reputation of our Consortium as great MHFA instructors.




New Collaborations

  • Catholic Diocese of Joliet
  • St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
  • Joliet School District 86
  • Lincoln Way Area Special Education Cooperative #843
  • FONA International, Inc.
  • Lombard Bible Church





  • Congratulations to Melissa Jandt and Lori Carnahan who passed their QE visit in April.  Melissa and Lori had a Youth class QE visit on only the second time they had taught the Youth curriculum.  They did an excellent job and will soon be ACE Instructors.
  • On a sad note our Consortium said “Good-bye” to Melissa Jandt and Kristen Hernandez.  Both are moving across country.  Best of luck in your new ventures.  We hope you are both able to continue to spread the MHFA news.  We will miss you enthusiasm and passion for teaching MHFA.
  • Remember all Consortium members are eligible to attend Linden Oaks educational seminars for free.  Linden Oaks offers seminars at the Mill Street location on a monthly basis.  These are generally worth 3 CEU’s.  Linden Oaks also provides webinars worth 1 CEU that are offered every other month.  Seminars for 2016 are listed on the website.  To register for a class call 630-527-6363 and let the receptionist know you are an MHFA instructor.  On-line registration for the events will not allow you to access the free class benefit.
  • The September CEU event will be held on Friday, September 16 from 9 – 12:15.  Back by popular demand will be Dr. Kevin Sabet speaking on Medical Marijuana:  Legal, Health and Community Considerations.  Dr. Sabet presented last year and received rave reviews.  Sign up now for this event that will be held at the Northern Illinois University Conference Center in Naperville.
  • Since July 2015 we have trained 1852 people in 108 classes.
  • The first MHFA Networking meeting will be held on Friday, September 9, 2016 at Mill Street.  We will be discussing ways to promote MHFA and meet your 3 class certification requirement.  The next quarterly networking meeting has been tentatively scheduled for November 11, 2016 and will be held at Elmhurst Hospital.  Topic to be determined.  Stay tuned!




Upcoming Classes


To register for any open class visit the Linden Oaks website at:

  • Naperville Public Library                                                MHFA August 3 & 10 9 am - 1 pm
  •  Lincoln Way Area Special Education Cooperative #843   YMHFA August 11 & 12 8 am -12 pm
  • FONA International, Inc. MHFA August 17, 18, 24, 25 various times
  • Dupage County Health Department MHFA August 19 8 am – 5 pm
  • Linden Oaks at Mill Street Older Adults August 23 & 30 8 am – 12 pm    
  • Linden Oaks at Plainfield YMHFA September 7 & 14 5 pm – 9 pm
  • Lombard Bible Church MHFA September 24 8 am – 5 pm      
  • Linden Oaks at Elmhurst MHFA October 6 8 am – 5 pm      
  • Waubonsee Community College MHFA October 6 & 13 5 pm – 9 pm