As program manager for the College of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice, Colleen Fitzgibbons, MPH, CHES, oversees CPHP and Ohio State Extension's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Mental Health Awareness Training grant to provide youth Mental Health First Aid training to communities throughout Ohio.
Colleen Fitzgibbons’s burgeoning passion for initiating conversations regarding mental, physical and emotional health started during her undergraduate days at Bowling Green State University, and inspired her to go to Kent State for her master’s in public health.
Fitzgibbons joined the College of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP) as program manager in 2016. She now oversees CPHP and Ohio State Extension's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Mental Health Awareness Training grant to provide youth Mental Health First Aid training to communities throughout Ohio.
This program administers instruction and workforce development to public health practitioners and educators who interact with youths to better prepare them to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and to know how to react to these challenges as they arise.
“In middle schools, high schools and even colleges and universities, we see signs of mental health crises pop up,” Fitzgibbons says. “Teachers are with the kids more than the parents are half of the time. Recognizing the symptoms, intervening and making sure a child gets help is important because the sooner someone gets help, the better the outcomes for recovery.”
Throughout the three-year grant period, Fitzgibbons, alongside 438 Mental Health First Aid instructors in Ohio, hopes to train 1,300 people in 12 counties and provide them with resources to “learn the language” necessary to interact with someone struggling with mental health.
“Mental health is a public health issue,” Fitzgibbons says. “When there are mental health and substance abuse problems that go unrecognized and untreated, more issues arise not only for that individual but for families and communities as well. Everybody is impacted.”