Mental Health First Aid Training for ACO Professionals

The National Animal Care & Control Association
is committed to setting the standard of professionalism in animal welfare and public safety through training, networking, and advocacy.

April 17, 2023

Written by NACA


“Attention animal care and control professionals!

Do you want to gain easy-to-use evidence-based tools and increase your confidence in and ability to deal with mental health situations in your work as an animal care and control professional? Do you want to be able to better support your co-workers and volunteers when they are experiencing mental health challenges, and/or more effectively handle mental health crisis situations you encounter on your field service calls? If so, national MHFA certification is for you and NACA in Partnership with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is forming a first of its kind to be offered strickly to animal care and control professionals!

What is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)?

  • MHFA is a nationally recognized set of go-to key skills – called an “action plan” – used to provide effective early intervention and help to someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • MHFA is a research-based strategy, listed on the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

How does one become nationally certified in MHFA?

To become a nationally certified MHFA provider, you must complete an MHFA certification course in accordance with national standards and content from the National Council for Wellbeing. The MHFA certification course offered through NACA is in full compliance with all national standards and content.

The NACA-offered MHFA certification course consists of:

  • 2 hours of virtual self-paced content.
  • 6 hours of virtual instructor*-led training via Zoom (includes a 30 min lunch and two 15 min breaks)
  • 1 hour of post-Zoom self-paced content.
  • $170

Upon completion of the MHFA certification course, you will be nationally certified in MHFA!

ACOs and other animal welfare professionals from anywhere in the United States are welcome to register! You must be 18 years of age or older to attend this course.

The instructor for the MHFA certification course through NACA is certified MHFA instructor Dr. Janet Hoy-Gerlach, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of OneHealth People-Animal Wellness Services (OHPAWS). Dr. Hoy-Gerlach has extensive experience in community-based crisis intervention and suicide/lethality risk assessment and has worked with and trained animal welfare and veterinary professionals nationally and internationally. She is the lead author of Human-Animal Interaction: A Social Work Guide, a book published by the National Association of Social Workers and serves as a subject matter expert on mental health benefits of the human-animal bond for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Dr. Hoy-Gerlach lives in Northwest Ohio with her family, which includes three dogs and three cats.

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