“If you have high blood pressure, people don’t tell you to just get over it. If you have diabetes, people don’t say, you have a good life and a nice family- why are you still sick? So why do people say these things about mental health disorders?”
Sarah Scantamburlo, a PA at CNS Healthcare, posed this question to a room of Physician Assistant (PA) students at the University of Detroit Mercy, challenging the stigma of seeking help for mental health and substance use disorders.
Scantamburlo received her PA-C from U of D Mercy in 2010. She returned to the school to train two classes of PA students in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a national program designed to teach risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.
Not only did she give her time to teach, she bought the $25 MHFA book for 60 students. “I am cheap,” she joked, “but I am passionate about ending stigma. It’s not fair. Stigma is why people don’t get the care they need.”
You do not need any medical knowledge to take MHFA. The goal is to empower someone to manage a mental health or substance use crisis until help arrives- just as First Aid would for a physical health crisis.
Scantamburlo believes that everyone should be MHFA trained- including medical professionals. “PAs care- we are invested holistically in people. That’s why I wanted to teach this course; I know what a difference we can make.”
CNS Healthcare fully supports Scantamburlo’s efforts. Ending stigma and educating the community on mental health and substance use disorders is an important part of our mission, along with providing services to over 6,000 children and adults in Michigan. If you are interested in learning more or requesting a training at your organization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.