Roanoke 250: Training 250 Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aiders in Roanoke, VA

Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and Radford University Carilion PA student Hwal Lee (principal investigator, Certified PA as of 2020) were chosen to provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to community members in Roanoke, VA.

MHFA is an eight-hour course that teaches individuals how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hwal modified the project half-way through to provide the MHFA trainings virtually.  He surpassed his goal, providing MHFA training to 252 adult and youth community members.  The training sessions included RUC’s incoming PA cohort, several for those working with adults and youths, and one for those living in rural areas.

“Working on this project has given me invaluable opportunities, and I consider this a model for effective and transformative PA student/PA-led service, outreach, leadership, and engagement,” said Lee.

In addition, the project collected data about participants’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding the training, which will document its impact and enhance subsequent trainings.  Lee has presented his work at a host of PA and interprofessional events at the local, national, and international levels.

The Health Foundation is pleased to support efforts to improve mental health in the community as well as foster models where PA-led community education can positively impact health.

This project was supported by the Kathy J. Pedersen Grant to Promote Equitable Care.

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