By Mickey Mallory – Denver, Colorado … Pastors, conference leaders, and church members joined via Zoom March 8–10 for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training sponsored by Centura Health.

The session was designed to equip spiritual leaders in RMC with relevant information that can be used to train members in their respective communities.

For some of the participants, this was a training they been awaiting. “I have often wondered how to be a good stepping-stone for a person in our community who is experiencing a mental health crisis and how to get them plugged in to professional care,” Mikey Archibique, Denver South’s associate pastor said. “This program was a big step forward for me as a pastor in learning how to communicate and support people experiencing mental health problems in my community.”

The need for training is clear according to Dr. Eric Shaddle, group vice-president of Mission Integration for Centura Health. “This training helps us understand [more clearly] that mental health is one important part of health. By training pastors to teach this course, we are equipping the most trusted members of society to teach MHFA classes that will help the people in their communities.”

The organizer of the training, Ashleigh Phillips, said, “It is my hope that classes will soon be provided to members and the communities where these individuals serve.” Phillips is the Provider for Outreach & Community Relations for Porter Adventist Hospital – Behavioral Health Services.

The training gave examples of the importance of compassion. “Going through a course like this broadens ones understanding and compassion for those who might struggle with mental health challenges,” said Jason Logan, Greeley church pastor.

Seth Day, co-pastor of LifeSource Adventist Fellowship echoed Logan’s comments. “The information presented was vital to me as a pastor working in the surrounding community where mental illness is prevalent.”

For others, this was one of the most important trainings they have received.  “MHFA Training is the most heart-filled, science-based, student-friendly program for bringing help, hope and recovery to people living with mental health problems I have ever attended,” said Evgeni Kovachev, pastor of Denver South church.

“It was an incredible training that we can’t wait to begin implementing in our department. We’re looking forward to also becoming trained instructors for Youth Mental Health First Aid,” Jessyka Dooley, RMC assistant youth director said.

Phillips, the Provider for Outreach & Community Relations for Porter Adventist Hospital – Behavioral Health Services, stated that “Centura Health wants to support Rocky Mountain Conference in bringing Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) classes to their members and communities to reduce mental health stigma, improve mental health, and save lives.”

–Mickey Mallory is RMC ministerial director; photo supplied