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162nd Wing hosts mental health first aid training course for Tucson Air Guardsmen

  • Published
  • By Maj. Angela Walz
  • 162nd Wing

The 162nd Wing at Morris Air National Guard (ANG) Base hosted a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course here September 22-23. Darci Thompson, 162nd Wing Director of Psychological Health (DPH), coordinated the effort to achieve the ANG vision of strengthening operational capabilities by normalizing help-seeking behaviors through outreach, prevention, and early intervention to drive resilience.

“This is a heavy subject, but I believe in this course,” said Master Sgt. Timothy Cotterall, a 137th Special Operations Wing Security Forces Defender, who has taught the course for the last two years. Cotterall travelled from his duty station at Will Rogers ANG Base, Okla., to train the 30 service members in attendance.

“[MHFA] is an early intervention public education program,” said Thompson. “It teaches adults how to recognize the signs and symptoms that suggest a potential mental health challenge, how to listen nonjudgmentally and give reassurance to a person who may be experiencing a mental health challenge, and how to refer a person to appropriate professional support and services,” she said. 

The two-day event introduced the purpose of MHFA and the role of the mental health first aider, and identified the impact of mental health challenges on the well-being of adults in the U.S., focusing on the intricacies of being a member of the military. Cotterall described the principles of safety and privacy for both the mental health first aider as well as the person receiving first aid. Focus was placed on evaluating the impact of early intervention on mental health challenges, and the importance of a mental health first aid action plan, as well as the appropriate steps to take when a person shows early signs of a mental health challenge. The course wrapped up with discussion of self-care importance following the application of a mental health first aid in a crisis or non-crisis situation.

Most military installations including deployed location have DPHs available 24/7. Contact Darci Thompson, 162nd Wing DPH (Office: 520-295-7315 or Cell: 520-237-2826), a First Sergeant or Chaplain if you need to talk to someone.