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Gulf Coast Mental Health Alliance holds training day to address mental health challenges

With special thanks to St. Christopher’s in Pensacola for hosting our day, the newly formed Mental Health Alliance offered a workshop for Mental Health First Aid training from the National Council for Wellbeing on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

The goal of our alliance is to provide education and resources to parishes that would like to learn safe and effective ways to help those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Included in this training was a multi-faceted address of recognizing the signs and symptoms of a health challenge and then how to offer help and support.

Under the guidance of two certified instructors, Cindy Wiley and Linda Foster, participants learned basic assessment techniques for application in a variety of situations along with tools to assist in better awareness of mental health services and possibilities (which vary greatly between Alabama and Florida).

The center acronym of the First Aid Training is ALGEE:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm

  • Listen nonjudgmentally

  • Give reassurance and information

  • Encourage appropriate professional help

  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

I am grateful for the growing interest in our churches being safe places for those struggling to find accompaniment during hard times or referrals to needed resources. The leaders in our diocesan Mental Health Alliance are dedicated to helping clergy or pastoral care teams form a responsible and gracious response to those in crisis.

If you or your church would like to learn more about this training, about ways we can recognize and respond in a safe way, please contact Dean Joy Blaylock

If you would like to schedule a pastoral care consultation with our lay instructors, please contact Sue Rollins ( or Anita Ford ( to discuss the many classes they offer to parishes in our diocese and School for Ministry.

For more information on the Mental Health First Aid training, see MHFA.ORG


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