An innovative mental health training program for first responders received a nod of approval from council Monday.
The free online course created in Mission has trained hundreds of emergency services staff, community workers, and anyone else interested in preventing either themselves or people they know from spiralling into crises.
Since launching in March 2013, more than 750 people have taken the online Community Cares: Mental Health Response Training program, which is also delivered in Riverside College classrooms.
The funding was due to run out on Dec. 31, 2013.
“The challenge of the program is that we have a deadline date looming. As I’ve said, we are receiving emails from people saying, ‘Will I have enough time to tackle the program before Dec. 31?'” coordinator Paul Horn told district council Monday.
Council unanimously granted Horn’s request for a $3,000 matching grant that, along with a commitment from Mission’s Division of Family Practice, will keep the project running and the website ad-free until December 2014.
“It would be hard for us to find a better way to spend $3,000,” said Councillor Jenny Stevens.
The Community Cares training is far-reaching. About one-third of online students are from Mission, another third from the Fraser Valley, and the final third from elsewhere. This includes not just from Canada, but also from countries such the U.K., India, New Zealand, and Turks and Caicos.
“We also get quite a few people from remote areas that would not otherwise have access to post-secondary education,” said Horn. “We absolutely encourage people to spread the word. It is designed for every person, from the lay person all the way up to professionals.”
The program was created by the Mission Healthy Community Council, a consortium of health and social service agencies co-chaired by Fraser Health and the District of Mission.
The eight modules can be completed in about 24 hours of course work. Students have watched a total of 118,000 minutes of training videos, 10 per cent of which in the last month alone.
The program grants students a certificate, and Horn has seen the training become a requirement for entire teams of community workers.
“We know that there are people using these certificates in terms of seeking work,” he said.
Community Cares is available at www.communitycarestraining.com/index.html.