PAs Wanted: Mental Health Community Outreach

Apply Today for Mental Health Outreach Fellowship

In today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, mental health is an increasing area of focus for patients and providers alike. As awareness of mental health increases, so too will the demand for healthcare professionals in the U.S. to educate the public.

The PA Foundation is currently accepting applications for its new Mental Health Outreach Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to connect PAs’ clinical expertise and compassion with the increasing need for mental health awareness and skills for responding to mental health crisis. PAs selected as Mental Health Outreach Fellows will attend Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructor training and then conduct MHFA trainings in their communities in order to teach people how to recognize and respond to signs of mental illness.

Jacqueline Spiegel, PA-C

Jacqueline Spiegel, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Director of Clinical Skills and Simulation and Professor at the College of Health Sciences at Midwestern University, completed the Mental Health First Aid instructor training and now serves as an instructor herself. She feels strongly that PAs are uniquely equipped to train members of their communities to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. “PAs have a substantial base of medical knowledge, they are patient-centered practitioners, and they already break down tough concepts for patients on a daily basis,” she says.

The Mental Health Outreach Fellowship is geared towards PAs who want to extend their expertise and care beyond their day-to-day practice in order to serve their communities. Jacqueline says she enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn from other professionals and community leaders through the MHFA instructor training, and uses methods she learned in the training in her daily work.

The PA Foundation program will provide PAs who become Mental Health Outreach Fellows with resource materials and interactive activities as well as adult-learning and teaching strategies. It will equip them with the tools and confidence they need to conduct the Mental Health First Aid program in their communities. The training will also sharpen skill sets, like public speaking and audience engagement, and may provide additional certification from the National Council for Behavioral Health.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in five Americans experiences a diagnosable mental health disorder each year, and only 41 percent of those individuals seek evaluation or treatment. The increasing occurrence of mental health events reinforces the need for the public to be educated and engaged, aware of mental illness and crisis, and ready to act. PAs are in a prime position to be champions of mental health, promoting mental health knowledge and skills at the community level.

If you’re passionate about serving your community and concerned that mental health stigma is a barrier for people who may need to seek treatment, find out more about the Mental Health Outreach Fellowship and apply today.

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