MHFA Newsletter - February 2017

Mental Health First Aid News and Notes- February 2017

Message from Denise:  Introducing New Marketing Models for MHFA in 2017

It’s a new year with many changes.  Accompanying the changes comes trepidation - and also opportunity.  At Team MHFA we are embracing the skill of looking for opportunity.  Within that spirit we are utilizing our new marketing models.  The three new marketing models for providing MHFA classes were presented at the November Quarterly Instructors meeting and during a webinar that can be viewed at:  CLICK HERE.  

As a reminder here is a quick synopsis of the three models for offering MHFA classes in 2017.

  1. Classes offered at Linden Oaks facilities.  
    These classes will be free with the only expense being for CEU’s ($50 for 8 CEU’s).  Classes will be offered at minimum on a quarterly basis and may also include some additional classes for specific groups within the hospital system such as RN trainees, hospital volunteers etc.  EEHealthcare employees that are part of Team MHFA will have the first opportunity to teach these classes.
  2. Classes hosted by another organization.
    For these classes there will be a $500 fee for the coordinator to attend the class plus $20 per person to cover the cost of the materials and books.  The cost also covers any requested CEU’s.  This type of class will be coordinated and marketed in the traditional fashion and will be open to all instructors to teach.  Please note that this fee structure is actually less expensive than our old fee structure once 25 people have registered for the course.  We would like to increase the overall class size for this type of class offering.
  3. Classes offered under the Franchise Model
    Here’s the opportunity!  Within this framework instructors will set up their own classes and will teach them without the coordinator present.  This enables the instructor to set his/her own fee for the course and receive some compensation for the time and expertise you will provide.  Linden Oaks staff will provide front and back end support by providing materials and books, registration, marketing flyers and course participant registration with the National Council.  Instructors will be billed $20 per participant to cover the cost of the books and support (payable after the class).  Only non- EEHealthcare employees can provide this type of class.

You may feel some trepidation about setting up your own MHFA classes and/or not having a coordinator present during your class.  Instead focus on the opportunity this model can provide:  money, not being restricted to my availability to attend a class, and an opportunity to reach groups of people outside the service regions of Linden Oaks.  I encourage you to think creatively about the people you might reach out to.  Once you’ve made the initial contacts and are ready to set up a class, contact us and we can offer some logistical support.

Remember that the National Council trainers certified and endorsed each of you to teach this course.  They have confidence in your abilities to present the material with fidelity so move forward with confidence.

And we still have your backs so you can continue to call with any questions you might have.  Onward!







Instructor Corner:  Creatively marketing Mental Health First Aid
by Robert Skrocki, LCSW, Communications Liaison at Interfaith Mental Health Coalition

Denise Elsbree asked me to write a little about some of my experiences in marketing Mental Health First Aid to faith communities. I hope it might be helpful in thinking about your own marketing efforts to promote and encourage organizations to advertise and host Mental Health First Aid classes in your own communities of practice. I posed two questions to myself for this article:

  1. How do you market Mental Health First Aid to faith communities? 
    • It has been helpful to initially conduct surveys and focus groups of faith leaders in our area about their experiences addressing mental health issues in their communities. The data gathered showed a common concern across different faith traditions for how to properly identify and compassionately address mental health issues that congregants bring to them, how to provide encouragement to apply for mental health services and better understand what services are available and how effective they are. They also expressed a need to put in context and to sensitively set limits on puzzling behaviors congregants exhibit that may be related to mental illnesses rather than perhaps seeing them as questions related to immaturity, misbehavior, social ineptness, spiritual issues, morality or characterological choices. 
    • It has been helpful to mention how the MHFA class can customize the scenarios to their settings, and provide a resource table of books that complement the class content, and list organizations that can provide faith sensitive mental health resources that will respect the faith traditions of the persons being referred and consult with faith communities on mental health ministry or program matters. I often mention how the class can help them feel comfortable and competent in connecting people to mental health resources using the practice of simple steps described in the mental health first aid class.
    • There are often potential new contacts to other faith communities that have not yet hosted mental health first aid classes in my classes, and I try to have side-discussions with them about them hosting or arranging for Mental Health First Aid classes in their organizations. 
    • Doing a workshop on the usefulness of Mental Health First Aid at a conference, or doing a class as a one day institute as part of a conference, can also be a powerful way to get the word out. 
  2. How do you market Mental Health First Aid in different settings? 
    • I sometimes suggest teaching Mental Health First Aid classes to leaders and administrators in faith communities to familiarize them with the class and then arrange to do it for their staff and congregants as a second step.
    • It is often easier to work within trusted networks or denominations or the same or similar faith traditions, parish nurse networks, and deacon networks. Denominations often have regular conference and trainings that people can easily attend.  
    • I make it a point to boldly talk it up with daily contacts and sometimes discover unexpected opportunities. For example, I was talking about preparing to teach a class to my hairdresser (got to look good for the class!) who then mentioned the continuing education requirements of hairdressers to maintain their licensure and how hairdressers often hear about mental health issues from their clients and could benefit from such a class. 
    • I have found it helpful to work through interfaith/ intercultural/ interagency coalitions so what has been developed in one setting can inspire efforts in other settings and we can avoid having to “reinvent the wheel”.

I hope some of these ideas may trigger some ideas for your own marketing efforts. It’s a privilege to be part of the Linden Oaks Coalition of trainers and have appreciated the opportunity to co-teach with so many of you.







MHFA FAQ’s:  What’s going to happen with mental health and substance use services under the new administration?

With the change in presidential administrations, many of us have questions and concerns about what will happen with the Affordable Care Act and insurance coverage for mental health and substance use services.  We have made much progress over the past 7 years in decreasing stigma and increasing access to mental health services.  MHFA has helped to promote mental health and substance use services and has benefited from increased awareness.  I know we all want to see MHFA continue to grow so that we can reach the 1,000,000 mark and beyond.  

We need to take on a new role – advocate.  One function of the National Council for Behavioral Health is to lobby for mental health and substance use services.  If you receive emails from them, you are aware that they are putting many resources into advocacy.  And they are encouraging all of us to do the same.

A recent email from Betsy Schwartz, Vice President of Public Education and Strategic Initiatives at the

National Council stated,
 “Mental health and addiction services are in jeopardy as Congress is considering proposals that could roll back coverage for people living with mental illness or addiction. There has never been a more important time to speak up for behavioral health and turn your inspiration into action. We are asking Mental Health First Aid instructors to consider joining our campaign and #Unite4BH!”

Consider signing up for the action alerts and suggestions about how you can advocate effectively with your senators and congressman.  Click on the link below to find out more.
Sign up here to begin receiving National Council action alerts 







Curriculum Corner:  

In the November newsletter I included some information from Nanette Larson about person-first language.  She recently sent out this information about person-first language related to substance use.

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professions, has released its 2017 Call for Presentations for their Annual Conference. Included in the submission guidelines is the following Required Terminology, evidence of a shift to use of person-first language in the addiction field!

Required Terminology

 NAADAC requests that presenters refrain from using terminology that perpetuates the negative stigma surrounding those with substance use disorders or living in recovery:

  • Instead of "addict," please use "person with a substance use disorder."
  • Instead of "addicted to X," please use "has an X use disorder," "has a serious X use disorder," or "has a substance use disorder involving X" (if more than one substance is involved.)
  • Instead of "alcoholic," please use "person with an alcohol use disorder."
  • Instead of "drug/substance abuse," please use "substance use disorder."
  • Instead of "former addict," please use "person in recovery" or "person in long-term recovery."

Please work to incorporate this terminology in your MHFA courses as well.








MHFA Spotlight

Don Dahlheimer is one of our MHFA Instructors. He went through the MHFA training at Elmhurst Hospital in 2015. Don has a M.Div. and a MSW. He is a LCSW and LMFT. He manages the Spiritual Care department at Elmhurst Hospital and has work as a chaplain in Oncology for the past 26 years. Over that time, Don has also worked part-time for as an outpatient therapist for the EMH Guidance Center, now call Linden Oaks Behavioral Health at Hinsdale. Don continues to do the Spirituality group for the Substance Use program a couple of times a month. Don’s most recent venture is to become a part of the Integrative Medicine team at Elmhurst Hospital’s Center for Health. There he offers clinical hypnosis, mindfulness and guided imagery.  Don is married to an O&M instructor (teaches veterans how to use a cane for travel) and has 3 boys working on being adults.

Don has always felt strongly that when illness strikes, it affects the whole person, mind, body and spirit. But it does not stop with the individual, it also affects the family and community. For these reasons, Don’s education has been about trying to understand the whole person in the context of a community. His Masters in Divinity has helped him explore the Spiritual side of humanity.

His Master in Social Work, has helped him helped him understand the mind body connection and that it does take a community to raise a child. His specialized training in Marriage and Family therapy gave him further understanding of systems and how they interact with each other. It has been Don’s goal to bring together this mind, body, spirit training in any of the settings that he has worked in, whether that has been in the hospital with cancer patients, in the therapy setting with individuals, couples or families or in the integrative medicine clinic. 

Last year one of the MHFA sessions that Don helped teach was with the clergy in Elmhurst. Don said: “It was a wonderful way to connect with the faith leaders of our own community and help them feel more comfortable helping people in their faith and city communities find help for mental health issues”.

Finally, Don says: “My work in a variety of settings has shown me that mental health and substance use issues touch almost everyone on one level or another. And individuals and their families truly suffer when they are dealing with these issues. Friends, church members, people in the community really do want to help but many times don’t know what to do or say. MHFA and ALGEE gives them a place and a way to start”.

Don and Robert Skrocki co-teaching a class for the Elmhurst Clergy Association.








Teaching Tips

On February 1st,  I participated in a webinar with the National Council about a new policy handbook for MHFA instructors that is hot off the presses.  The policy handbook presents parameters and direction for some of the commonly asked questions/issues in teaching MHFA.  (Just a heads up – all instructors will be required to read and acknowledge an understanding of the handbook in the near future per the National Council.  I’ll keep you all posted.)  One of the highlighted issues during the webinar and in the handbook is the importance of teaching all MHFA classes with fidelity.  

So what does this mean?  Obviously, it means covering all of the course content in the allotted time frames.  But it also includes issues such as starting and ending classes on time, bringing and providing resource information for participants, and not going off on tangents that are off topic for the course.  

There are some tools and strategies you can use to keep yourself on track with the material.  

  • Teaching classes on a regular basis helps to maintain good teaching practices and familiarity with the curriculum.
  • Use the videos available on the website to preview a section of the material you aren’t as comfortable with.  
  • Think of appropriate examples you might be able to use to illustrate a point (these examples or brief descriptions should take no more than 2 minutes to explain.)  
  • Spend time preparing to teach.
  • Use a new link on the updated instructor website to review the Quality Evaluations and rate your teaching.
  • Don’t ever hesitate to contact us about any questions you might have.







New Collaborations

  • Wheatland Salem United Methodist Church
  • Wesleyan United Methodist Church
  • Lewis University
  • Community Health Partnership of Illinois








  • Linden Oaks has a new public education course that is now available.  We are offering a 2 hour De-escalation Course that is appropriate for a wide range of audiences but is similar to MHFA in that it is designed more for the general public.  The course addresses some of the common mistakes that people make in escalated situations, provides a basic understanding of physiological processes that occur in stressful circumstances and how this impacts behavior and teaches a set of skills to use as the person who is intervening.  The cost of the course is $200 for an organization to host and utilizes lecture, video and activities to assist in developing the necessary skills.  If you are interested or know of an organization that might benefit from hosting this class contact Christine Hanley at
  • 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 2017 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.
  • Here’s an update on our training stats as of the end of January 2017:  During 2016 our Consortium trained 1708 individuals in MHFA/YMHFA.  Since the inception of our Consortium in 2010, we have trained 8302 individuals in some type of MHFA class.  Let’s keep moving forward to reach the 10,000 MHFAiders trained mark for the Linden Oaks Consortium.
  • Linden Oaks Behavioral Health will host a gala event, Music and the Mind, on April 21, 2017 at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville (303 Corporate West Drive, Lisle).  The event, starting at 5:00 pm, features an impactful musical performance by Juilliard trained concert pianist and Harvard educated psychiatrist, Richard Kogan, MD.  Dr. Kogan guides a dynamic presentation that explores the impact of psychological factors and psychiatric illness on the creative output of the great composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).  The presentation uses Beethoven’s personal story to communicate the complexity of mental health and raise questions about treatment and use of music to support healing. Tickets, which are $125 each (before February 14), include the performance as well as cocktails, appetizers, and an opportunity to mingle with guests and the performer after the show.  All of the proceeds from Music and the Mind will fund programs through Linden Oaks.  For more information on tickets:






Upcoming Classes (next 3 months)

To view open classes or register for any open class, CLICK HERE.