Care Design NY Care Managers Receive
Mental Health First Aid National Certification

Albany, NY - Care Design NY, a Care Coordination Organization/Health Home (CCO/HH) for individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) is proud to announce that in just over a year, over 98% of its care management workforce was fully certified through the nationally recognized evidence-based training program, Mental Health First Aid; a three-year certification. 

The Mental Health First Aid public education program was developed by the National Council of Mental Wellbeing to teach course participants how to identify, understand, and respond to mental health and substance use disorder warning signs and risk factors in adults. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older -- about 1 in 4 adults -- suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. Furthermore, it is estimated that 30-40% of all persons with I/DD have a psychiatric disorder compared to 27% of the general population.

Through role-playing and simulations, the eight-hour, interactive program provided Care Design NY Care Managers with skills for supporting individuals with a mental health and/or substance use problem by recognizing symptoms of mental health problems, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate treatments and other support assistance.  It helped to remove the fear and hesitation associated with starting conversations on mental health and substance use problems, thus decreasing the stigma surrounding psychiatric diagnoses.

Care Design NY leadership was committed to ensuring Care Managers received skills and certification to further enhance the Care Design NY Health Home model of care to provide members with whole person-centered care supports and services so they may live a quality life.  The timely identification of when someone is not at their baseline, allows the Care Manager to provide the support needed when someone is experiencing behavioral health or mental challenges, and the steps to take to maximize the opportunities that they will get the help needed. 

The training began before the COVID-19 pandemic and from January to March 2020, there were 15 in-person training courses, three of which were completed in partnership with ThriveNYC.  Then from October 2020 to May 2021, virtual training was offered and a total of 59 training sessions were completed. While it was a very ambitious and challenging goal to train 880 individuals during the global pandemic and while the workforce was working virtually, the team persevered and achieved its objective.

Care Design NY’s Provider Relations Specialist, Gordon Collier, LMSW, and Director of Behavioral Health, Michelle Israel, LCSW-R with the Care Design NY training department advanced this ambitious initiative believing in the powerful outcomes the training and certification would achieve.

Gordon Collier stated, “What an amazing opportunity to partner with the Training Team and our Behavioral Health Director to roll-out a much-needed training and discussion on mental health. As a social worker and an advocate for mental health and substance use, working in a person-centered organization, I noticed the gap in the conversation, as well as services for folks with I/DD.   I am happy we received the support from leadership in recognizing the need for the Mental Health First Aid program and to ensure we had the resources we needed.”

Care Managers come from different experiences and backgrounds and may or may not have experience with people with mental health issues or people experiencing a crisis. The training provided them with an overview of different conditions and helped them identify and understand those conditions and how to address different situations that may come up in a supportive and professional way.

While Care Managers do not diagnose or treat mental health issues, they can provide a valuable proactive role in supporting individuals to get the care they need before it becomes a crisis.  A Care Manager upon completion of the training stated, “Knowing the signs to look for and having the new skills to develop a plan of action to help them get the support they need.”



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