In the Region 4 Prevention Directors meeting, several CSB Prevention Directors expressed concerns about MHFA implementation challenges. I am sharing with the group just in case others have concerns that we have not received. Even with the concerns below, I am so pleased to say that since March 2020, 34 CSBs have trained 5,398 participants in spite of both environmental and technological challenges! Kudos! 

The concerns are in Bold and my responses are in Italic:

  • The Learning Management System (LMS) platform is not efficient and has a lot of glitches that make it difficult to work with (i.e. the online manual does not work, participants go missing or do not load properly to the class roster, they have to cancel classes due to issues they are having and lack of response from National Council) The LMS is owned by the National Council and DBHDS has no control over it Alisha has expressed any concerns she receives and there have been improvements. 
  • Staff waste many hours trying to work through issues they are having with the LMS. Other CSBs may be able to offer some suggestions that have worked for them.
  • The National Council does not broadcast issues they are having with their system to the instructors. Once again, OBHW has no control over National Council but as consumers of the product, we offer concerns and suggestions.
  • Does the National Council plan to be flexible with instructors meeting certification requirements due to still being in a pandemic.
    OBHW will inquire about this and will post their response.
  • Can we utilize Stress First Aid or Psychological First Aid in our localities as another option other than MHFA? No, as it relates to the requirements of the Performance Contract. DBHDS is mandated through Virginia Code to provide MHFA and funding through the General Assembly and the Appropriations Act. 
    It is as follows: § 37.2-312.2. Commonwealth Mental Health First Aid Program. A. For the purposes of this section, “certified trainer” means a person who has successfully completed a Mental Health First Aid instructor training program offered by the national authorities of Mental Health First Aid USA or the Commonwealth Mental Health First Aid Program and obtained a certification as an instructor of Mental Health First Aid. 2 of 2 B. The Department shall establish and administer the Commonwealth Mental Health First Aid Program (the Program) to provide training by certified trainers of individuals residing or working in the Commonwealth on how to identify and assist individuals who have or may be developing a mental health or substance use disorder or who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. Such program shall include training on: 1. Building mental health and substance abuse literacy designed to help the public identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse; 2. Assisting individuals who have or may be developing a mental health or substance use disorder or who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis by (i) recognizing the symptoms of a mental health or substance use disorder; (ii) providing initial assistance to those experiencing a mental health crisis; (iii) guiding individuals requiring assistance, including individuals who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis, toward appropriate professional assistance; (iv) providing comfort to an individual experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis; (v) helping an individual with a mental health or substance use disorder avoid a mental health or substance abuse crisis that may lead to more costly interventions and treatments; and (vi) promoting healing, recovery, and good mental health. C. The Department shall ensure that evaluative criteria are established to measure the effectiveness of the Program, including fidelity of the Program and training provided thereunder to the objectives set forth in subsection B. D. Neither the Department nor any other agency of the Commonwealth shall incur any liability by reason of (i) any action taken by an employer or other person on the basis of information or materials provided through the Program or (ii) any workplace violence that occurs, regardless of whether the workplace at which an episode of workplace violence occurs had received information or materials provided through the Program
  • Complaints have been shared with Gail more than once and they are not being heard Outside of complaints expressed early on in 2020 on the Prevention Coordinator calls, I have not been contacted by anyone with any additional complaints. As you know, I am available and always open the floor for concerns in every Prevention Coordinator meeting I attend, which is almost all of them.
  • OBHW needs to share the issues we are having with the National Council before DBHDS signs another contract with them and possibly bring in legal teams to hold them accountable. All DBHDS contracts are formally evaluated and reviewed for performance by many layers within DBHDS Administrative services. The Commissioner holds the authority and final signature.
  • Share with National Council that we may be looking at other options in order to show them that we are willing to work with another business if things aren’t fixed Once again, our partnership is bound by the Virginia Code.
  • MHFA has to be used to meet requirements in the logic model, but having so many issues with the National Council’s platform The vast majority of CSBs have managed to navigate and utilize the platform. In addition to Alisha’s assistance, Peer to Peer consultation may assist with this.
  • The National Council has not released the new MHFA 2.0 Curriculum and the blended format does not work with the First Responder designation.Alisha will be emailing the National Council for an explanation about this and will post their response.
  • MHFA is too difficult to make it work with the schools. The schools are not the only venue to deliver MHFA and all venues will meet Performance Contract Exhibit D requirements.
  • OBHW does not advocate on the CSBs behalf – Alisha has spent countless hours with National Council expressing and working out any CSB concerns she receives. These concerns have significantly decreased since the beginning of the virtual platform. Additionally, other CSBs have developed relationships with the National Council and their advocacy has benefited us all. Please copy Alisha on any complaint emails to National Council so that she can continue to advocate.As a result, Alisha was invited to help the National Council test MHFA Connect, their new learning management system as they will no longer be using Cornerstone On Demand (CSOD). She will be reviewing various processes related to how Instructors and/or Coordinators manage and support the First Aider experience during a Mental Health First Aid course. She will post all updates about the results of this process when they become available on the portal.

    Working together to problem solve we can continue to make MHFA work in Virginia! Gail

2 Responses

  • In the last 10 days I’ve had to submit 12 Request for Assistance forms so I fully understand the frustrations coming from REGION IV. That said, all of my RAs were resolved quickly (even the 5:45PM on a Friday freak-out from a tech-challenged participant) which is nice but is hardly an endorsement of the Cornerstone LMS. It is terrible. For fun, I just counted how many RAs I’ve submitted since we started-123.

    Gail/Alisha- I’m happy to help with the testing the new Connect platform. Just say the word!

    • Thanks Jamie! Thank goodness they are getting better at being responsive! I’ll make sure Alisha is aware of your offer…the MHFA Expert you are!!!

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