Originally published: May 26, 2022
Free mental health training program from United Way of the Midlands
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Imagine, free mental health resources available to you and your family at work, at school, or even at church.
That’ll soon become a reality thanks to a new program being introduced in the metro.
It’s a partnership between United Way of the Midlands, Molina Healthcare, and Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare.
The Molina Healthcare Charitable Foundation donated $25,000 to support UWM’s new Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) initiative for the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area.
The program will give groups, hands-on training to spot signs of mental health struggles and respond appropriately.
According to UWM, updated research studies demonstrate “mental health as one of the highest needs within the community, and statistics show that one in three people in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro experience symptoms of chronic depression.”
UWM CEO and President Shawna Forsberg champions this project, recognizing that as the need for mental health services continues to grow, the stigma around asking for help remains.
“What we’re trying to do through this awareness campaign is help people feel comfortable asking for help because it really could be any of us at any given times in our lives that may need assistance,” said Forsberg.
She added people shouldn’t have to suffer silently and although there are already great local resources doing this work, this program will expand the effort.
Between the pandemic, recent economic turbulence, violence, and so much more, UWM recognizes the community is under an incredible amount of emotional strain.
“I think the isolation from the pandemic and the uncertainty really caused challenges…and of course, inflationary issues are causing challenges for families as well. We have a lot of stressors in life so the likelihood of struggling with mental health has increased,” Forsberg acknowledged.
And it’s why she believes Mental Health First Aid is such a timely, preventative tool.
Trained professionals from Region 6 Healthcare who have already had success in this field, will offer an eight-hour hybrid training to all sorts of groups.
Participants can come in person to classes or complete them virtually starting this July and in turn, companies, organizations, and all sorts of diverse groups will have critical resources within their own environments to either address an issue on-site or at least connect their colleagues to the right avenue for help.
The training is 100% free and Forsberg said United Way of the Midlands is hoping to raise $200,000 each year for the next three years to add more trainers and expand this service.
”I think there’s a stigma attached to mental health and what we’re trying to do through this awareness campaign is help people feel comfortable asking for help because it really could be any of us at any given time in our lives that may need assistance,” said Forsberg.
The program is an eight-hour course that can be taken both in-person and virtually.
It’s led by trained professionals and it is completely free.