Since 1949, the month of May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month. If the last 12 months has shown us anything, it is that the subject of mental health is as prevalent as ever. In September 2020, PharmDawgs came together and raised over $13,000 to support mental health initiatives at the College of Pharmacy.
Dr. Andrew Darley, director of professional education, has spearheaded the College’s efforts to provide a unique training opportunity to students, faculty, and staff. Darley gained certification to become an instructor of Mental Health First-Aid (MHFA) training. He strongly believes this training opportunity can play a significant role in increasing mental health literacy, decreasing stigma associated with mental health challenges, and increasing the likelihood that participants can help those who need it most. Darley’s training was generously funded by the Georgia Area Health Education (AHEC) MHFA program for the Foothills Region.
Thus far, Darley has led three courses to certify 43 individuals. With the challenges caused by the pandemic, the course is currently taught virtually. Thanks to the funds raised last September and our AHEC partnership, the MHFA training is offered at no cost to participants.
Gabby Bachner, a current P3 PharmD student, is a recent participant in the MHFA training and shared her thoughts on the experience. “Being a mental health first aider serves a dual purpose to both one’s professional and personal lives. Everyone deals with challenges in different ways, and it is important to recognize when these could negatively impact one’s life. I am glad to be a mental health first aider because I feel like I can truly make a difference in someone’s life. Additionally, this training could not have come at a better time. The global pandemic has had a negative impact on many people’s mental health. Now, with my MHFA certificate, I feel prepared to jump in when someone could potentially need my help.”
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“As a pharmacy school, it is essential that we do our part to address mental health challenges in our patients, with each other, and for ourselves. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our college community and beyond to offer this program and help us confidently meet challenges associated with mental health.” – Dr. Andrew Darley