As a health and well-being organization, WesleyLife is committed to the holistic wellness of its team members. Just in time for World Mental Health Day on October 10, Krista Van Hooser-Perin and her team have taken that commitment a step further.
Krista, WesleyLife's Director of Organizational Learning, has been certified by the National Council for Mental Well-Being as an Adult Mental Health First-Aid Virtual Instructor. Two members of her team soon will begin certification process as well.
"It's helpful to think of the program as CPR for mental health," Krista, who has been with WesleyLife for seven years, says. "It trains people to recognize and pay attention to symptoms of mental-health challenges, how to assess what's happening, and how to connect people with mental-health professionals."
Krista said she became interested in the course after hearing about it at a conference. She and her team members discussed it and decided to become certified, then teach the eight-hour course to WesleyLife leaders and clinical team members.
Eventually, the course will be opened up to WesleyLife residents, clients, and partners. Certification lasts for two years.
"Like all organizations, we've seen increases in mental-health challenges since the pandemic; that was a time of collective trauma, with many people living in a constant state of fear," Krista says. "We didn't always have or make the time to deal with our mental health, and when you carry trauma with you, it puts you at risk for all kinds of health-related issues."
Krista says her goal in establishing the program at WesleyLife is all about teaching team members to notice if a fellow team member is struggling, and to say something.
"It's intimidating for many people to consider just how they'll start that conversation," Krista says. "We'll talk about what to look for; it can be as straightforward as walking into a meeting and noticing that a fellow team member might not be acting like themselves or that they don't look as put-together as they normally do.
"We'll go over how to approach the conversation and about best practices as they relate to the resources that are available. We'll even go over asking, 'Would you like me to sit with you as we make this call for assistance together?"
Krista says ultimately, she hopes the program further enhances WesleyLife's already strong organizational culture.
"Just as we wouldn't ignore and walk past someone who had physically collapsed, my hope is that people will be able to not ignore and walk past someone who needs mental or emotional assistance," Krista says. "It's all about noticing and knowing what to do before something becomes a process.
"We have highly skilled, compassionate team members, and I am confident these tools will be embraced. We're excited to get started!"