Westover A&FR hosts Mental Health training

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ellie Mayo
  • 439th Airlift Wing

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. – On March 24, 2022, Westover Airman and Family Readiness hosted American Red Cross instructors on base to provide volunteers with Disaster Mental Health Response training. Disaster Mental Health Response is an American Red Cross program focusing on assisting anyone experiencing hardships, whether it be a personal emergency or a natural disaster.

The organization has utilized 548 Disaster Mental Healthy volunteers in the past year, creating over 23,500 mental health contacts after medium and large-scale disasters. Ellen Pataschnick and JoAnne Griffin, instructed a class of seven volunteers for two hours in the Internet Café of the Family Support building. With over 40 years of combined experience with mental health response, disaster relief and critical response, the two women presented their extensive instruction focusing their efforts on Disaster Mental Health Response.

The class focused on the mental health aspect of dealing with disasters and how to support those going through them. Pataschnick said, “We want people to be able to help others who are in need as a result of a disaster and to provide the immediate basic things someone is going to require.” This included assisting someone in need by finding housing, providing food and water, or being there to listen.

Mental health is an extremely important issue world-wide, and especially for the military. The two instructors recognized the number of difficulties and traumas that military personnel experience and tailored their instruction to those types of situations.

The training, while focusing on providing disaster relief, also brought up the importance of taking care of yourself. Griffin said, “Emotionally intelligent people are people that know they need a tune up, just like we do to our car when the light goes on in the dashboard.” She went on to say, “We all need to be checking the dashboard light on ourselves.”

Approaching Mental Health Awareness month in May of 2022, Westover and the American Red Cross Association recognize the importance of taking the time to have these conversations and receive this instruction. This classroom instruction is projected to continue occurring throughout the year. For more information visit https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/disaster-mental-health.html