The Individual and Community Impact of Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Target Audience

  • Community Advocates
  • Community Members
  • Direct Support Workers
  • Paraprofessionals
  • General Public
  • Emergency Responders
  • Mental Health Professionals

Synopsis & Agenda

For a number of reasons, individuals experiencing developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders often have more contact with the criminal justice system than the general population. Thus, the better prepared officers and staff are to respond effectively and appropriately, the more likely the interaction will be positive.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety

Just as police departments have acquired new methods for applying non-deadly force in dangerous situations, the knowledge acquired in Mental Health First Aid training gives officers strategies for trying to prevent a situation on the street from escalating.

Mental Health First Aid training promotes safety first. The Mental Health First Aid series specifically designed for Law Enforcement and First Responders addresses the following goals:

  • Helping safety of First Responders
  • Helping safety of the population being served
  • Access mental health services easier
  • Gaining knowledge and tools to deescalate or prevent mental health crises
  • Prevent unnecessary use of force

What is Impact of the training on people with developmental and/or Psychiatric Disabilities?

A discussion on the research and our experience of who is benefiting from MHFA training and how.

Wellness for the First Responder/Direct Service Provider

  • An exploration of wellness issues and the cost of caring.
  • Mental Health First Aid is appropriate for every staff member, in or out of uniform.
  • Secondary Trauma: Understanding how working with people affects us personally & professionally.
  • Conclusion: How Mental Health First Aid addresses stigma, literacy regarding people with disabilities and mental illness, recognizing signs and symptoms to effectively manage crises, and self-care for the First Aider.

Learning Outcomes

  • Introduce participants to the Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety course;
  • Provide key protective wellness aspects for direct service providers and first responders;
  • Increase your understanding of cummulative trauma.

Workshop Leaders

Photo: Jill Ramsey

Originally from the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Jill Ramsey has found her home the last 18 years in Alaska. Ms. Ramsey is a Behavioral Health Training Coordinator for the University of Alaska in the College of Health’s Center for Human Development/Alaska’s Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). 

Ms. Ramsey is the principal of Ramsey Consulting, has programmatic technical assistance experience including in depth work with education programs as well as affiliates of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and various rehabilitation programs. Ms. Ramsey holds an MS degree in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, a national certification as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner and has worked in the field of behavioral health for 28 years.

Ms. Ramsey is working with the National Council on Behavioral Health as a contracted Mental Health First Aid Quality Evaluator for Alaska. Ms. Ramsey is also an instructor for the National Supported Employment Certification course housed in UAA’s Center for Human Development and accredited by the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE), as well conducting Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety, working with Older Adults, and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Ms. Ramsey is an instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute’s Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Course, The National Empowerment Center’s Hearing Voices Workshop, Secondary Trauma and the Direct Service Provider presentations and the QPR Approach Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention program. Ms. Ramsey has developed and delivered a campus-based curriculum in partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast Campus entitled Trauma Informed Campuses throughout the state.

As director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Alaska and as a member of the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association network, Ms. Ramsey was instrumental in bringing the Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T) concept to Alaska and participated in the first Crisis Intervention Training sessions with the Anchorage Police Department. In addition, Ms. Ramsey provided requested trainings from each NAMI affiliate and assisted in establishing NAMI affiliates in Alaska.

Ms. Ramsey has education and experience in management as well as direct service to adults experiencing serious mental illness, co-occurring disorders, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and homelessness. Former roles include crisis intervention specialist, grants writer and administrator, vocational rehabilitation program coordinator, job coach, case manager, mental health worker, mental health court liaison, clubhouse staff generalist, unit manager, and executive director. Ms. Ramsey has experience in assisting organizations and program departments in developing and measuring program outcomes as well as assessment of compliance with regulatory systems.

Photo: Wendi Shackelford

Wendi Shackelford holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in History at the University of Alaska Anchorage and graduated number 16 in her police academy class of 30. Ms. Shackelford obtained the Training Coordinator position for Youth Mental Health First Aid with the UAA Center for Human Development Alaska Training Cooperative in February 2015 and has been assisting more than 50 Youth MHFA instructors across Alaska.

Ms. Shackelford is a fifth generation police officer recently retired from more than 20 years with the Anchorage Police Department serving the last ten years as an SRO within Chugiak High School, Mirror Lake Middle School, and four Eagle River/Chugiak area elementary schools to answer police calls for service, teach DARE and other topics, and build positive relationships with students, staff, parents, and the community. Ms. Shackelford was assigned full time with the patrol division as Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) Coordinator from June 1, 2013 to January 31, 2015.

Ms. Shackelford was an FBI/LAPD-trained hostage negotiator for APD from December 1997 to January 2004. Ms. Shackelford has served as the Coordinator and lead instructor for the Anchorage Police Department’s C.I.T. program since its inception in October 2001. At the CIT training, mental health and other professionals voluntarily provide expert instruction to law enforcement/first responders during an intensive 40-hour course in which attendees are educated about mental illnesses, medications, suicide and crisis intervention, active listening skills, de-escalation techniques, empathy, and respect. The Anchorage Police Department, led by Ms. Shackelford, has conducted 15) Crisis Intervention Team academies, training 400 first responders, law enforcement, and other professionals across the State of Alaska. Since retirement, Ms. Shackelford has assisted the APD with two additional CIT academies. Ms. Shackelford is currently providing technical assistance to other Alaskan communities in developing their own CIT 40-hour training courses.

Ms. Shackelford was certified by the APSC in 2006 as an instructor for the Crisis Intervention Team and DARE. In 2015, Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety was added to her instructor certification with APSC and Ms. Shackelford is also nationally certified to instruct Youth Mental Health First Aid, Adult Mental Health First Aid, MHFA for Public Safety and QPR Gatekeeper suicide prevention.

In addition, Ms. Shackelford is credentialed as a police chaplain and liaison officer. Ms. Shackelford is also credentialed as a basic chaplain with the Chaplain Fellowship Ministries Inc. (CFMI) and as a Disaster Response Chaplain by the Southern Baptist Convention (January 2012).

Ms. Shackelford has continued to participate in CISD’s as a law enforcement peer and to serve individual officers in need of one-on-one peer support, with referrals to vetted professionals as necessary. Ms. Shackelford is a certified trainer in NAMI New Hampshire Connect™ Postvention and has thrice been a national presenter at the International Crisis Intervention Team Conference.