Anthony Campbell admits he used to be a “yeller.” Whether it was the way he was raised or his military background that instilled the behavior — probably a bit of both, he said — taking a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course helped him realize there were other effective ways to communicate.
“I used to yell a lot to get my point across, especially because of my military background, and my parenting mentality used to be ‘do it because I say so,’” he said. “MHFA taught me there are more effective ways to communicate that don’t involve yelling, such as how to de-escalate a conversation instead of talking over the other person.”
After he was certified as a Mental Health First Aider, Campbell went on to become a MHFA National Trainer.
“I saw the value MHFA would bring to the Department of Defense (DOD) because it serves as a wonderful complement to resources provided by the DOD to veterans, service members, their families and those who support them,” he said. “MHFA taught me to be empathetic and more understanding of what everyone was going through, both in the military and civilian world.”
Campbell’s passion is helping military members, veterans and their families with mental health and substance use challenges. He said the obstacles that military members, veterans, their family members and caregivers face are intertwined. And the numbers reflect that: One in four active-duty military members show signs of mental health conditions and nearly 88% of caregivers report increased stress and anxiety.
Worsening the situation is the military culture’s negative stigma about seeking and receiving help. People avoid reaching out for fear of seeming weak. But those perceptions are changing with help from MHFA National Trainers, Instructors, First Aiders — and a MHFA community-specific course.
Adult MHFA for Military, Veterans and Their Families is designed to decrease stigma, address tough challenges and allow these adults to show up fully in their daily lives and support those around them. Along with other subject matter experts, Campbell helped to shape the course so that it’s authentic and accurate for military members.
The course is a skills-based training that teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to a veteran or service member experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge, with a specific focus on the cultural factors related to military life.
Built on the framework and principles of Adult MHFA, Campbell said MHFA for Military Veterans and their Families uses “statistics and photos that are more accurate to military situations and relatable scenarios.”
He explained, “We intentionally designed several scenarios that kept it relevant to Department of Defense contractors, military service members and family members.
“This version is tailored to an audience who is either in the military, a veteran or an organization that supports military, veterans and their families. It is designed to educate service members to understand it’s OK to need support. There are a lot of unique challenges service members face, and this is a unique resource.”
Many people know a military service member — either active duty or a veteran — or a family member or caregiver. Since they may not talk about the mental health or substance use challenges they’re facing, you can help them by learning how to identify, support and offer resources. And that’s what MHFA is all about.
#BeTheDifference to this community by taking MHFA for Military, Veterans and Their Families and getting certified as a Mental Health First Aider or Instructor.