Seven Voorhees College faculty members become MHFA certified


Seven Voorhees College faculty members become MHFA certified

December 11, 2018

Voorhees College faculty and staff members Dr. Zhabiz Golkar, Dr. Anestisa Yakunina, Dr. Marcus Amos, Adra Barrows, Lynda Jefferson, Wendy Hyland and Pamela Small are now Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certified.

MHFA USA was included in President Barack Obama's plan to reduce gun violence and increase access to mental health services.  In 2014, Congress appropriated $15 million to train teachers and school personnel in MHFA. The initiative, beginning in Australia, has evolved into an international program and is listed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

According to the National Council of Behavioral Health (2015), 40% of individuals between the ages of 18-24 are currently enrolled in two to four-year colleges and universities. With statistics stating that 75% of mental illnesses develop before the age 25, it is imperative that this practice becomes implemented on college and university campuses and communities nationwide.

When an individual becomes certified in Mental Health First Aid, they learn the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, particularly depression, anxiety, suicide, substance use, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, substance use and eating disorders, which are the most common mental health problems on college and university campuses.

Golkar, associate professor of biology and principle investigator (PI), said she sincerely appreciates the generosity of a funded grant from the Morehouse School of Medicine to implement on Voorhees campus a mental health program. “I am especially privileged by the opportunity to serve as PI and initiate the program, and I am confident, having faculty and staff certified in MHFA would be an invaluable asset for the Voorhees family,” Golkar said. “I firmly believe that regardless of age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, credentials, or religious beliefs, it is incumbent upon us to do all we can to facilitate and/or provide the best services possible for those who need emotional and mental health care.”

Amos, assistant professor of sports management and department coordinator, said Voorhees students’ health and wellbeing are vital to their academic performance and personal development. “The Mental Health First Aid certification provided effective training in understanding potential disorders and emotional barriers that may affect our students,” Amos said.

Jefferson, director of the student support services program, said she appreciated the opportunity to receive the training. “I am now equipped with the skills to recognize warning signs of mental health disorders and better understand the risk factors associated with them. This preparation will definitely help me improve the services provided to our program members and others,” Jefferson said.