Tricia Pearce, MBA
Senior Mental Health First Aid Instructor
Community Relations Specialist
Tricia Pearce is the community relations specialist at Life Management Center of Northwest Florida, where she utilizes 16 years of experience to manage public relations and fundraising for the six county organization. While at the Center she has increased public exposure of the organization through many avenues, including the establishment of an annual Suicide Prevention Conference and successful nomination for Life Management Center to be honored at the Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Symposium for excellence in healthcare. Most recently she has been instrumental in bringing Mental Health First Aid certification to Northwest Florida as one of the first instructors in the area.
Tricia received her Master’s in Business Administration from Florida State University and has recently earned certification as a Mental Health First Aid instructor through the National Council on Behavioral Healthcare. She began her career at FSU Panama City and United Way of Northwest Florida and then eventually served as the executive director of Girls Incorporated of Bay County before moving into her current position. In 2008, she was recognized as one of the New Vanguard by Panama City Living magazine. More recently, she was honored as an Emerging Woman of Distinction at the 2014 Women of Distinction Gala by the Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle.
Tricia is an active member of the community. She is a past president of the Panama City Northside Rotary Club and a founding member of the SPARE Suicide Prevention Coalition. As a member of the American Advertising Federation of Panama City she served as president and helped bring the first local ADDY Award Competition to our area. She has also been active with the Bay County Chamber, Emerald Coast Business Women and FSU Panama City Alumni Club.
Mental Health First Aid USA
Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports. This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care. The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.
Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).
Mental Health First Aid teaches participants a five-step action plan, ALGEE, to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis:
Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Give reassurance and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. First Aiders do not take on the role of professionals — they do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions, like “what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?” Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. All trainees receive a program manual to compliment the course material.
Mental Health First Aid was introduced in the U.S. in 2008 and, to date, hundreds of thousands of people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have taken the course. The course is offered to a variety of audiences, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, and law enforcement. Approximately 400 people are being trained each day with that number expected to increase.
In 2012, Youth Mental Health First Aid was introduced to prepare trainees to help youth ages 12-18 that may be developing or experiencing a mental health challenge. And in 2014 two specialized versions were introduced, Mental Health First Aid for Veterans and Mental Health First Aid for First Responders.
Mental Health First Aid was included in the Presidents plan to reduce gun violence and increase access mental health services. In 2014 Congress appropriated $15 million to SAMHSA for training teachers and school personnel in the youth version of Mental Health first Aid; and another $15 million is included in the President’s 2015 budget proposal. The Mental Health First Aid (S.153/H.R. 274) has broad bi-partisan support and would authorize $20 million annually for training the American public. Fifteen states have made Mental Health First Aid a priority, appropriating state funds including Texas that has allocated $5 million.
For more information or questions about Mental Health First Aid, please go to info@MentalHealthFirstAid.org. To find a course or contact an instructor in your area, visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org.
The National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health coordinate Mental Health First Aid USA.