Mental Health First Aid Training Completed

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Photo provided by the Suffield Police Dept.

At the lectern, Suffield’s First Selectman Melissa Mack welcomes students to a training course on first aid for mental health. She expressed her appreciation for their commitment, by individual and agency, to positive interactions between first responders and community members with mental or behavioral health illness.

On March 29, the Wheeler Clinic completed a second session of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to Suffield Police and first responders from the region. A previous training session had occurred on March 6. Both trainings were conducted in the Amiel P. Zak Community and Training Room at Suffield Police headquarters.

As of March 29, over ninety percent (90%) of the staff of the Suffield Police Department have received this training, provided free of cost. This includes police officers, public safety dispatchers, uniformed Animal Control Officers, and civilian administrative staff.

The Mental Health First Aid-Public Safety module provides public safety personnel a better understanding of mental health issues including suicide and PTSD. Attendees also learned intervention, de-escalation techniques as well as peer support strategies, specific for public safety personnel, so that officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel can focus on the wellness and emotional well-being of their colleagues.

Participating in this training with Suffield Police has been Town of Suffield inter-departmental personnel from the Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association, Suffield Fire Department, Town of Suffield Senior Services, Youth Services, and Suffield Emergency Aid Association (EAA).

Regional partners attended as well; from the Granby Ambulance Association, East Granby Police Department, the West Hartford Police Department Peer Support Team, and mental health clinicians from the Mobile Crisis Response Team of Community Health Resources.

A total of fifty (50) first responders, service providers, and mental health mobile crisis responders from Suffield and surrounding jurisdictions have been trained in mental health awareness and de-escalation techniques through this initiative at these two training sessions conducted in Suffield.

Any individual and/or organization seeking more information on the many versions of Mental Health First Aid training courses that are available (i.e. General Public, Youth, Veterans’ etc.) is encouraged to view the Mental Health First Aid webpage at, the Connecticut Clearinghouse website at, or contact the Wheeler Clinic at (860) 793-2164.

The Suffield Police Department appreciates the Wheeler Clinic / Connecticut Clearinghouse, a unit of the Connecticut Center for Prevention, Wellness, and Recovery, for providing this training. This training was made possible due to a Project AWARE grant awarded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

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