The Institute of Research, Education, and Services in Addiction (IRESA) of the Universidad Central del Caribe (UCC), proposes to develop Project MHAT-CR (Mental Health Awareness Training for Community Response). Project MHAT-CR will prepare and train veteran family members, peers including veterans, school personnel, community leaders, first responders, municipal police, and primary health workers on how to identify and appropriately and safely respond to signs and possible symptoms of serious emotional disturbance (SED) or serious mental illness (SMI) to prevent further escalation of emotional deterioration and decompensation. MHAT-CR will target the Metro North Health Region (MNHR) of Puerto Rico, comprised by the municipalities of Barranquitas, Bayamón, Cataño, Comerío, Corozal, Dorado, Naranjito, Orocovis, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, and Vega Alta where the number of mental health cases is higher in comparison to other areas.
This project is a capacity-building initiative seeking to prepare a community response to the segments of the vulnerable communities experiencing social determinants of poverty and unemployment (children, adolescents, older adults, veterans) at risk of developing any mental health disorder. MHAT-CR will train 825 individuals from the community and social structures of help, serving and in close and continuous contact with this population in the curriculums of Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults (MHFA-Older Adults), and Mental Health First Aid for Veterans (MHFA-Veterans). This will be accomplished by increasing the mental health literacy of individulas interacting with children, youth, older adults, and veterans (CYOV) to recognize warning signs and symptoms and make appropriate referrals. To ensure this identification and early referral occurs, the project will establish a network of service providers, community leaders, municipal officials, and health insurers to facilitate access to needed services.
The implementation of Project MHAT-CR aims to build and expand the capacity of the MNHR communities to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, particularly SMI and/or SED to deploy appropriate and safety response; and establish linkages within the MNHR to facilitate the process of referrals and service delivery among caregivers including veteran family members, peers including veterans, school personnel, community leaders, first responders, municipal police, and primary health workers.