MHFA newsletter - May 2016

Message from Denise:  Meeting with Kevin Hines


In January, I received an email from Bryan Gibb at the National Council on Behavioral Health.  He informed me that Kevin Hines would be in Chicago in early February speaking to employees of an international business and, “Would I be interested in representing Mental Health First Aid at the event?”

It was very exciting to have been asked to represent MHFA as there are any number of organizations in the Chicagoland area that also provide MHFA classes.  But even cooler, was the opportunity to meet Kevin Hines.

Those of you who are Youth MHFA instructors or any of you whom have taken the Youth MHFA course, will recognize Kevin as the subject in the YMHFA videos.  Kevin has a very compelling story about the development of his mental illness (Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features), his suicide attempt and miraculous survival.  Kevin is one of only 34 people (as of 2013) who survived jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. 

In the YMHFA videos, he shares reflections on the development of his mental illness and the signs and symptoms that he exhibited during adolescence.  In the final video segment, he describes the day of his suicide attempt.  His purpose in sharing his story is to illustrate the importance of being able to ask someone about thoughts of suicide.  Since that day in 2000, Kevin has dedicated himself to living mentally well despite a very serious mental illness.  He is an amazing mental health advocate and regularly speaks publicly about his experience.

At the event I was able to distribute information about MHFA and our consortium and I had the opportunity to hear Kevin speak.  Before dinner he shared much of the same information about the day of his suicide attempt that we hear about in YMHFA, along with some of the miraculous things that contributed to his survival.  After dinner his talk focused on learning to live mentally well and the commitment he makes to living this way. 

Kevin spoke of several subsequent hospitalizations since that day in 2000, but he views them as part of his mental wellness pledge.  Other daily commitments he makes to his wellness include:  medication, therapy, exercise, sleep, food, education, refraining from recreational drugs and alcohol and keeping strong social supports including what he calls his “personal protectors."

Listening to him speak, I realized that hearing about his suicide attempt is only the first part of his story.  I found it even more inspiring to hear how he works every day to maintain his wellness.  His wellness plan highlights the last “E” in ALGEE – Encouraging self-help and other support strategies.

Kevin closes his book, Cracked, Not Broken, by writing:  “There is hope……I still battle depression, and I even still have thoughts of suicide.  I still have all of the symptoms that I had in my worst days.  The difference is that I have been given the tools to reduce my symptoms, to find and keep wellness.”

Check out for more about Kevin’s wonderful message of hope.  Let’s share the same message.

(Oh, and by the way, I have a signed copy of Kevin’s book that will be raffled off to a Consortium member sometime during 2016.  Stay tuned!)

Denise with Kevin Hines 2
Denise Elsbree and Kevin Hines


Instructor Corner
Nadjeh Awadallah, EdD, LCPC

Dr. Nadjeh Awadallah, EdD, LCPC, one of our newer instructors, is the Community Liaison for Linden Oaks at Northwest Community Healthcare.  He shares information with us about Linden Oaks services at NCH and the outpatient services at Linden Oaks Medical Group.   Dr. Awadallah also provides counseling through LOMG.  He shares information about these newer programs.

Nadjeh Awadallah
Nadjeh Awadallah, EdD, LCPC

Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) has recently expanded their breadth of treatment options for the behavioral health patient population by opening several new service lines. NCH has partnered with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health to revise service offerings by NCH to meet a growing need for these services in Illinois’ Northwest Suburbs.  The new services direct people to the appropriate setting and level of care if they or a family member are experiencing a mental health crisis.  All services are provided at 901 W. Kirchhoff Road in Arlington Heights.

Here are the most recent changes:

Adult Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Program
NCH has long treated adult patients with acute mental health illnesses on a 20-bed unit.  In an effort to enhance adult BH resources, NCH has added the Adult Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient programs (IOP).  PHP, a 6-hour day group therapy programming meets on weekdays with nights and weekends at home. IOP, also meeting Mon-Fri, is a 3-hour day program.  The program is staffed by a psychiatrist who sees patients once a week. This differentiates NCH’s programming from other providers in the area that do not offer weekly psychiatric consults for patient in the IOP level of care. Patients also receive daily group therapy interventions that include psychoeducational classes, meditation, and psychotherapy facilitated by licensed clinicians. Patients in both programs also receive family therapy and weekly individual psychotherapy.

Generations Program
To meet the needs of adults age 50 and older who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, NCH has created the Generations Program, a new inpatient behavioral health service. The 20-bed unit offers a multi-faceted treatment approach that addresses the biological, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of recovery.  Programming includes specialized therapies, individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and opportunities to discuss issues, such as loneliness and aging.

Adult Residential Addictions Center
The Adult Residential Addictions Center, a 30-bed unit, offers a specialized program to help people who are struggling with addictions to alcohol or drugs.  The program is staffed by physicians who specialize in the study and management of chemical dependency, as well as licensed clinicians and round-the-clock nursing. The treatment covers recovery strategies and the development of an individualized treatment plan. In addition, NCH will help individuals prepare to return to work through vocational and career counseling and motivational interviewing.

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 address anxiety, depression and substance abuse for adolescents and adults. Full behavioral health assessments are available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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.  Counseling services are available only at the Mill Street location.  By adding these services Linden Oaks is able to support patients on their individual journey to wellness.

For more information about Linden Oaks Medical Group please call 630-305-5118.


MHFA FAQ’s: Statistical Updates from the National Council

During several recent classes, I’ve had participants ask for more updated statistics than are currently presented on the slides.  Since we are not allowed to change any of the course information or material, we’ve just had to make do.

I’m happy to report, however, that the National Council has now provided us with updated material.  Perhaps you’ve taken a look at the material that is available to you once you login to the MHFA Instructor website.  You might have even received an email from the National Council with links to download new material. Here’s what the National Council provided.

  1.  An updated participant manual.  While you cannot access this from the instructor website, be aware that the new participant manual has a new look complete with updated statistics.  These books are now available for order through the National Council.  We will begin using these books in the summer of 2016.
  2. A supplement with updated statistics that can be used with the “older” version of the participant manual.  This supplement can be printed out and distributed with the older manuals.  We now have print outs of this supplement and will make them available while we continue to use the older manuals.
  3. An updated teaching manual.  The updated teacher’s manual goes along with the updated participant manual (and the updated slide deck).  At first glance the manual looks much the same.  The class activities are the same and most of the text remains unchanged.  The statistical material is new however, so please look closely at these slides once we start using this material.
  4. An updated slide deck.  Again this mirrors the statistical updates in the new participant manual and the updated teacher’s manual.  See the Curriculum Corner section of this newsletter for more on the slide deck.
  5. At some point in the next few months similar materials for Youth MHFA will become available.

Here’s our plan for rolling out the new material.

  •  We are currently using up our older manuals but including the supplement has a hand out.
  • At a specified and publicized date, we will switch over to all of the new materials.  At that point we will distribute the updated participant manuals during classes, and use the updated slide deck.  Be prepared to use your updated teacher’s manual by that date.  You will receive additional information about the “go-live” date for the new materials.
  • The Linden Oaks MHFA Consortium will be offering a mini-refresher instructor course over the summer months.  The same course will be offered 3 different times:
    • Tuesday, June 14, 8:30 am – 12 noon at the Linden Oaks Outpatient facility in Naperville
    • Friday, July 15, 8:30 – 12 noon at Northwest Community Hospital
    • Tuesday, August 9, 5 pm to 8:30 pm at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital

Please make it a priority to attend one.  During this session we will preview the new material and you will receive an updated teaching manual.  The changes will be highlighted along with a review of the general course outline and recommended teaching strategies.  A separate email will go out soon regarding the dates for these classes.  Watch for the email and sign up to attend one of these sessions.

In the meantime, feel free to review this material through the download available to all instructors.  Please let me know if you have any questions about the new material or our roll out plan.


Curriculum Corner:  Updated Slide Deck from National Council

Our new slide deck has a fresh new look.  The formatting is slightly different with a new font and layout.  Other changes include updated statistics for:

  •  Slide 7 – US Adults with a Mental Disorder in Any One Year – new prevalence stats
  • Slide 12 – Depression & Anxiety has a new introductory picture
  • Slide 18 – US Adults with an Anxiety Disorder in Any Given Year – new prevalence stats
  • Slide 26 – Suicide Risk Assessment (“sex” was changed to “gender” J)
  • Slide 56 – Symptoms of Manic Episode (Bipolar) – the symptom list has changed – please review
  • Slide 70 – Understanding Substance Use Disorders – there is a new prevalence stat
  • Slide 74 – Substance Use Disorders in the US 2014 – completely revised chart
  • Slide 85 – Encourage Self-Help and Other Support Strategies – new AA and NA stats

In addition to the look and updated information, there are also changes in how the slides “come up”.  In the past on slides that had multiple bullet points you had to click through each bullet point to get the full content of the slide displayed.  Moving forward, the slide content will appear with fewer clicks.  You can enhance your teaching by being familiar with the way in which the slides appear.

We will go over the new slide deck during the mini refresher course this summer.  We will also email you the updated slide deck.  Youth instructors will receive both updated slide decks.

Algee goes home with Fay Jackson 2
Instructor Fay Jackson took Algee to Australia.  Algee now lives with her granddaughter in Sydney.

MHFA Spotlight:  Catie Fay

Catie has been a registered nurse for 32 years. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She initially worked in the intensive care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital while working on her Master’s Degree in nursing from Rush University in Chicago. Catie remained in the ICU/ER for the following 20 years working at Northwestern, Cook County Hospital and St Francis Hospital in Evanston, Il.

After being a full time mother of 3 little boys, she returned to nursing in behavioral health.

She worked for 5 years at Scott Nolan Center an 80 bed acute psychiatric hospital affiliated with Maryville serving ages 3 years -21 years old. Catie currently works at Northwest Community Hospital in their behavioral health department. She was certified as a MHFA instructor last year and really enjoys teaching the class. She also enjoys gardening, reading and tennis.  She is getting ready for her favorite past time…watching the Cubs and feels like this is the year!


Teaching Tips:   What to do with your hands while teaching 
Featured article:  The Washington Post

We talk about the important of body language in MHFA.  So when I came across this article in an online social work journal I wanted to share it.  It’s a good reminder of positive body language.  Check it out.

Featured article via the The Washington Post
What to do with your hands while speaking in public
By Jena McGregor and Shelly Tan


New Collaborations

  • CGH Medical Center
  • Metropolitan Family Services
  • Rasmussen College
  • North Central College
  • Valley Industrial Association
  • Presence St. Mary’s Kankakee


  • Mental Health First Aid certification for participants (not instructors) is good for 3 years.  So people who were trained 3 years ago or more in MHFA should be encouraged to take the class again.  If you know someone who hasn’t take the class recently, encourage them to recertify.  We have been contacting organizations that previously held MHFA courses about providing the class again for recertification.
  • If you receive an email from a potential participant in a class you are scheduled to teach please direct them to  Now that our classes are listed on the national website, your contact information as a course instructor shows up.  We are happy to answer questions you might receive from potential participants.
  • 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.
    • As of April 2016, 7259 people have been trained through the Linden Oaks MHFA Consortium since its inception.  
    • Since July 2015 we have trained 1558 people in 92 classes




Upcoming Classes:  June, July, August

  • LOH St Charles YMHFA June 1 & 8 5 pm – 9 pm
  • West Aurora School District 129 MHFA June 6 8 am – 4:30 pm
  • West Aurora School District 129 YMHFA June 7 8 am – 4:30 pm
  • LOH Mill Street MHFA June 16 8 am – 5 pm
  • Kane County Regional Office of Education  YMHFA June 20 8 am – 4:30 pm
  • Benedictine University MHFA June 22 8 am – 5 pm
  • Presence St. Mary's Hospital – Kankakee MHFA  July 14 & 21 5 pm – 9 pm
  • Catholic Diocese of Joliet MHFA July 16 8 am – 5 pm
  • Presence St. Mary's Hospital – Kankakee YMHFA  July 28 8 am – 5 pm
  • 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