Support to build a resilient community

In a world where physical health often takes the spotlight, mental well-being deserves just as much attention. Mental health is an integral aspect of our overall wellness, and just like knowing how to treat and triage physical injuries and recognize physical illnesses, having those same first-aid skills to apply to mental health is critical.

Providing support after a mental health crisis is just as important as encouraging a general understanding of how to support good mental health. A mental health crisis is any event that has a stressful impact sufficient enough to overwhelm an individual's usually effective coping skills. Critical incidents like these are abrupt, powerful events that fall beyond ordinary human experiences.

St. Clair County Community Mental Health (SCCCMH) is committed to building resilience in people of all ages throughout the community. To help support and encourage resilience, SCCCMH offers Mental Health First Aid to community members free of charge and coordinates the St. Clair County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, which is affiliated with the St. Clair County Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management.

Providing comprehensive mental health support and programs that are tailored to the community's needs is an ethical imperative and a strategic investment into the entire community’s well-being. Offering programs like Mental Health First Aid and participating in the Critical Incident Stress Management Team provide foundational services that build a strong and resilient community.

Mental Health First Aid

St. Clair County Community Mental Health offers Mental Health First Aid training free of charge to anyone in the community.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training program designed to equip individuals with the skills to recognize and respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis or struggling with mental health concerns.  

Mental Health First Aid is similar to traditional first aid but for mental health. The goal is to provide immediate assistance and guide individuals to appropriate professional help.

One of the most significant barriers to seeking help for mental health conditions or substance use disorders is the prevailing stigma. MHFA helps break down these barriers by fostering empathy and understanding. When more people are trained in MHFA, we create a compassionate, supportive community that destigmatizes mental health challenges. It helps ensure that many people have the resources to connect others to our community's mental health and crisis support services.

Just as prompt action in a physical emergency can save lives, early intervention in mental health crises is equally critical. MHFA teaches participants to recognize warning signs, offer initial help, and guide individuals toward appropriate care. By addressing mental health concerns early, we can prevent crises from escalating and promote recovery.

Jill Vandenabeele, a MHFA graduate, says “Not even a week after the training, I was faced with a situation where a young man wanted to take his own life. I took what I had just learned in MHFA and was able to act quickly to make sure he was safe and provide local resources for his parents.”

MHFA can help employers create more supportive work environments, educators recognize early warning signs in students or co-workers, and family and friends can build valuable skills in their personal lives.

Adrienne Luckenbacher, Mental Health First Aid Trainer at St. Clair County Community Mental Health.“Our organization has been training individuals in MHFA since 2015,” says Adrienne Luckenbacher, MHFA Trainer at SCCCMH. “St. Clair County now has more than 2,000 people trained in the program, and have had rave reviews about how much the training is helping people in our community.”

MHFA is offered throughout the year at St. Clair County Community Mental Health. The 8-hour course not only teaches skills to provide initial help in a mental health challenge or crisis, but also teaches common risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What do I do?” and “Where can someone find help?”

To learn more about Mental Health First Aid training available at St. Clair County Community Mental Health, which is free to anyone who lives or works in St. Clair County, visit the SCCCMH website. The 2024 class schedule and a class registration link are available online.

Community organizations, schools, businesses, or other groups interested in hosting Mental Health First Aid training can contact Adrienne Luckenbacher directly at or by phone at 810-966-3531.

Mental Health First Aid training program offered through St. Clair County Community Mental Health.

Critical Incident Stress Management Team

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a comprehensive, systematic, and proactive approach to managing the psychological and emotional responses of individuals who have experienced or witnessed a critical incident or traumatic event. The primary goal of CISM is to help individuals cope with the immediate emotional impact of the incident and to prevent or mitigate long-term psychological stress.

CISM interventions are designed to help people feel better faster through ventilation, validation, support, and education regarding stress symptoms. Participation in a CISM intervention teaches how to manage normal reactions to an abnormal situation and may suggest additional support when necessary.

These interventions are available for any group who experiences a traumatic event or critical incident. First responders, hospitals, businesses, schools, churches, and government entities often use this service. In St. Clair County, the CISM Team is a partnership through multiple agencies, including SCCCMH, St. Clair County Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management, and local law enforcement partners.

Similar to Mental Health First Aid, CISM is a form of psychological first aid.  While MHFA trains individuals to recognize and respond to signs of a mental health crisis, CISM responders provide group-based debriefings for those who have experienced a traumatic event such as a fire or tragic loss.

In St. Clair County, businesses or organizations interested in exploring the support of the CISM Team can call 810-985-8900; on weekends, the CISM team can be reached by calling 810-966-2575 or St. Clair County Central Dispatch at 810-985-8115.

Sound Mental Health Infrastructure

Supporting the framework for mental well-being and a network of resources is imperative to creating a community with sound mental health infrastructure. Mental healthcare moves beyond serving individuals experiencing a mental health condition. It also means offering support and education about how to achieve and maintain good mental health, which can often help prevent a crisis from occurring or worsening.

“Programs and support like Mental Health First Aid and the Critical Incident Stress Management Team are an investment into our community's well-being,” says Deb Johnson, SCCCMH Chief Executive Officer. “Our organization will continue to prioritize programs and supports like these, which are often in partnership with other local organizations, to improve mental well-being and resilience among those who live and work in our community.”

To learn more about the programs, services, and array of support offered by St. Clair County Community Mental Health, visit If you would like to access services for a mental health condition, intellectual/developmental disability, or substance use disorder, call the Access Center at 888-225-4447.
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