Like many programs and services in the age of COVID-19, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a nationally renowned, evidence-based training course that teaches participants the skills to help someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, has gone virtual.

Presented by Alpert JFS, the Palm Beach County coordinator for Mental Health First Aid, in partnership with Palm Health Foundation, Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition, and 14 agencies that comprise the Mental Health First Aid Coalition of Palm Beach County, and the Health Council of South East Florida/Florida Department of Health, graduates of the program — Certified Mental Health First Aiders — are able to assess situations, offer nonjudgmental support, reassure, and give hope while helping people get appropriate professional assistance.

Experiential activities help participants build an understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families in a virtual class format that includes two (2) hours of self-paced independent classwork followed by interactive six-hour Zoom instruction for up to 20 people at a time.

Thanks to grants from Florida Blue, SAMHSA, and OD2A (Overdose Data 2 Action), residents living in vulnerable communities, first responders, veterans, public safety personnel, firefighters, those working in addiction recovery, as well as the general public, can be trained to help family, friends, and neighbors. A recent exclusive group brought Alpert JFS’ AmeriCorps volunteers together for this valuable training.

“The Alpert JFS AmeriCorps group participants join the ranks of more than 6,200 other Mental Health First Aiders who have been trained in the last five-and-a-half years throughout Palm Beach County,” said Alpert JFS Director of Community Outreach/Mental Health First Aid Cindy Wides.

“In this day and age, where everyone is distressed with the current situation at some time or another, MHFA is a wonderful presentation for anyone and everyone,” said participant Madeline McConnell (pictured). “I am so impressed with the great information I received that was succinct, easy to follow, and easy to learn. I cannot say enough positive things about the program, which I feel is applicable to anyone who has contact with others!”

McConnell sees the program as particularly useful in her work as a companion in the AmeriCorps program, where she has formed what she described as “unbeatable relationships” with clients.

“The AmeriCorps program provides a win-win situation for volunteers, who have the opportunity to give back to the community, and clients, who receive support, socialization, and practical assistance to make their lives easier,” said Program Director of Enhanced Companions Doni Greenblatt. “Everyone involved feels good about themselves, and the camaraderie they have been able to establish. The participation of AmeriCorps volunteers in MHFA training is another example of the holistic approach Alpert JFS has towards community inclusivity.”

To learn how you can be a lifeline to friends, family members, colleagues, and others, visit, contact Cindy Wides at 561-238-0251, or email [email protected] to find an MHFA course convenient for your schedule.

Alpert JFS’ AmeriCorps participants are part of a nationwide program of seniors helping seniors. They provide their peers in need with transportation, socialization, and friendship. Alpert JFS provides ongoing training and support to its AmeriCorps volunteers to prepare them to serve and assist these seniors in need. For more information, visit


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