As New Jerseyans living in the areas impacted the hardest by Superstorm Sandy continue to put their lives back together, many are seeking help for mental health disorders. 

Hurricane Sandy Emotion
Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images

To help those in need, the Ocean County chapter of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey will offer residents in Ocean County a free course on mental health first aid during the month of May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.

"I think everybody should have mental health first aid training," said Michelle Green-Ferrante, director of MHANJ's Ocean County office.

Green-Ferrante said the training is applicable for anyone, especially case managers that are directly working with Sandy victims.  "There's so many folks out there that still don't know what's going on with their homes - still stressed.  Some are still living in motels and can't go back home."

The training is also important for Meals on Wheels workers because they go  door-to-door. "They may be the only face that those people behind that door see and maybe if something is going on, they could identify it," Green-Ferrante said.

The eight-hour course teaches participants a five-step action plan to assist someone with an emerging mental health crisis or disorder.  It covers the most common health problems, and teaches participants how to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions and secure appropriate care for a person experiencing a mental health problem.

The course will be provided in two sessions scheduled for May 5 and May 19 at  MHANJ's Ocean County office in Toms River.

Anyone interested in participating must pre-register by either going to MHANJ's  website,calling 732-244-0940 or emailing Laura Guida at

Those who successfully complete the training will be issued at certificate. The program is being made possible through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Red Cross as part of a major initiative to bring Mental Health First Aid, a national program created in 2001, to communities severely impacted by Sandy.



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