The Mandell JCC in West Hartford has obtained grants from Cigna and the Cigna Foundation to offer youth mental health first aid courses.
Submitted by Michelle Bonner, Mandell JCC
The Mandell Jewish Community Center is pleased to announce its project partnership with Cigna (NYSE: CI), a global health service company, to address youth mental illness. With a grant from the Cigna Foundation, and additional support from Cigna, the Mandell JCC will be offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training.
The evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training provided by the JCC will provide adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, the knowledge and confidence needed to recognize crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and the skills necessary to provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.
“We are honored to be partnering with a global company like Cigna,” said David Jacobs, Executive Director of the Mandell JCC. “We share Cigna’s commitment to improving the mental health of our youth. While the Mandell JCC is known for its fitness, we recognize the important role mental health plays in overall wellbeing. We also recognize that the conversation about mental health can be a sensitive discussion. There can be fear and stigma related to starting a conversation about mental health, but by teaching people how to identify, understand and respond to a mental health situation, we can help end the shame that keep so many from seeking the help they need.”
“At Cigna, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and teaching people how to respond to a mental health crisis is just as important as training people in CPR,” said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna Healthcare of Connecticut, Inc. “We are proud to collaborate with the Mandell JCC to bring this important, groundbreaking training to the Greater Hartford community.”
The JCC expects to train 350 Youth Mental Health First Aiders over the next year. Youth Mental Health First Aiders are adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, including; teachers, parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, health & human service workers, school staff, community organizations, peers, clergy, police officers, firefighters, first responders, coaches, camp counselors, pediatricians, and municipal professionals. To date, more than one million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.
“The stigma associated with mental illness and substance use disorders can be a strong barrier preventing people from seeking effective treatment. This Mental Health First Aid training helps combat stigma by increasing understanding of mental illness and providing skills that will help these adults identify and assist young people who may need mental health help,” said Mary Engvall, executive director of the Cigna Foundation.
The courses offered by the JCC will be taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors, Rebecca Ewald Krusinski and Johanna Peck.
Krusinski is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 15 years in the mental health field. The majority of her career has been focused on forensic mental health with five years as a clinical social worker with the Connecticut Department of Correction and, most recently, as a forensic monitor for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Peck has more than 15 years of marketing experience in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. She is well-versed in human resources and staff management situations. Her own personal life experiences led her to become a certified instructor in Mental Health First Aid.
About the Mandell Jewish Community Center
The Mandell Jewish Community Center is open to everyone and supported by funds raised by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, a recipient of funding from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, and a member of the JCC Association of North America.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in over 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 95 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com. For more information about Cigna’s proposed acquisition of Express Scripts, please visit www.advancinghealthcare.com.
About the Cigna Foundation
The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation is committed to working together with nonprofit organizations that are creating innovative approaches to improving the health and security of individuals and communities everywhere. The Foundation’s primary grant making focus is on health equity, with an emphasis on sharing the expertise and energies of Cigna’s people with our nonprofit partners.
About Mental Health First Aid
Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. For more information, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org. The National Council for Behavioral Health introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 1 million Americans have been trained. www.thenationalcouncil.org.