ONTRACK Program Resources has two newly certified Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructors among its ranks. ONTRACK  Program Services Manager Peggy J. Thomas and Alisa Nelson, M.S.W., recently received certification in YMHFA.

“Because a significant number of young people are experiencing mental health issues, it is helpful to be adequately prepared to assist when a mental health crisis occurs,” said Thomas. “YMHFA is not solely for behavioral health experts. The training is designed to help anyone who frequently works or interacts with young people,” said Nelson.

Through customized technical assistance, consultation and training, since 1997 ONTRACK has helped hundreds of organizations implement evidence-based, culturally responsive, best practices to improve the health and wellbeing of diverse communities, especially those at risk for substance use and mental health disorders, trauma, domestic violence, homelessness, criminal justice involvement, HIV, poverty, and other challenges. Now ONTRACK also provides Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

Nelson, who is also on ONTRACK’s Board of Directors, teaches courses in anger management, substance abuse prevention, parent education, MHFA, and now YMHFA. Nelson says she is a firm believer in the mantra, “Life is a Journey of Helpful Hints” and has a true desire for making her classes highly informative, on the cutting edge, applicable to the real world, and enjoyable. She has delivered consultation and technical assistance to youth and adult populations, schools, courts, parole, counties, state agencies, community based organizations, faith based organizations and mental health practitioners and repeatedly receives exceptional reviews from her training participants.

For nearly 18 years at ONTRACK, Thomas has worked with various public agencies, community and faith-based organizations to help bring about understanding and change in dealing with the many issues related to substance use, as well as a variety of other social justice ills. She is a vocal advocate for treatment, recovery and prisoner re-entry services and passionate about addressing the incarceration disparities affecting women of color and their families. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies with an emphasis in public relations.

The 8-Hour YMHFA certification training is now available through ONTRACK. This new evidence-based strategy from the National Council on Behavioral Health teaches a 5-step action plan to offer initial help for people with the signs and symptoms of mental illness or those experiencing a mental health-related crisis. The training will help participants be there for friends, family members and colleagues. Counselor and BBS CEUs are available. For more information about the training or about ONTRACK Program Resources, call .916-285-1810.

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