By Michael Dooley, Training Academy Director
Instructors Lee Berlinquette and Kiersten Harzewski, from Mental Health First Aid USA, conducted an instructor course for DOC and county trainers at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Training Academy the week of August 19 through August 23. This training was supported by a U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance grant for the "Pennsylvania Statewide CIT Project" which aims to expand Crisis Intervention Team training and mental health awareness in community corrections and parole.
Mental illness remains a challenge with our population under supervision on parole and probation, in our community corrections centers and in our institutions. The MHFA program teaches staff how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders with individuals under our supervision and custody. The class participants included county and state probation and parole, Bureau of Community Corrections employees, as well as staff from state correctional institutions.
The Training Academy is excited to announce that all participants gained their MHFA certifications. This was not an easy task and required hard work, and yes, even homework and studying. The Department of Corrections takes safety of everyone very serious, including safety for staff, community citizens and consumers of mental health services.