Brand New MHFACO Video!


“What Is Mental Health First Aid?” Watch Our New Video to Find Out!

In an effort to help our community better understand the benefits of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Colorado, our team has been hard at work creating this introductory video that explains what MHFA Colorado is, why it is important, and how residents can show their support for our mission of educating Coloradans about mental health.

Whether this video inspires you to take a class, spread the word about MHFA through social media or sponsor a training at your business, our hope is that this video simply inspires you to take action and join us in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

Take a look at this 2 ½ minute video and learn how you can become a lifeline for a friend or family member in need of support.

Check it out right here. 

Ready to join us? Visit to register for a class today! Or, share this video to your network and help us spread awareness. You have the power to make a difference!


Meet the Team, Part 6: Jacinta!

Name: Jacinta Lisauskaite

Role: Youth Mental Health First Aid Liaison

Hometown: Alytus, Lithuania

Favorite colors: white, sand color, coral

What brought you to Mental Health First Aid Colorado? I remember the day when I came back from school, laid down on my bed, and stared at the ceiling for hours. It was a new experience for a highly motivated, active, and studious seventeen year old. Mental health was a taboo topic in Eastern Europe in those days. My friends, relatives, and teachers did not understand what was happening to me and as depression symptoms worsened, they stepped back in fear, discomfort, and helplessness, which in turn worsened my condition. I could not even put a name to that which was destroying my life. I promised myself that if I ever get better, I would help others. It was only when I found hope through faith that I started moving towards recovery. Five years later, I am a completely different person, and I want to help others who are going through pain that I experienced when I was a youth.

Over the last couple of years, I worked with youth as an outdoor leader where I learned how to work with groups. In college, I studied psychology and pursued activities that helped me to gain a deeper understanding of myself and others.

What is your favorite part about working here? My experience working with the MHFACO staff has been great since the first day I met them. It is wonderful to work with people who are passionate and motivated to make a difference in others’ lives. I feel very blessed to be around professionals who are very supportive of my goals and are willing to invest their time and energy to see me develop and succeed.

Describe a time when you used MHFA or YMHFA strategies: Recently, one of my close relatives was visiting town. Instead of my natural response to react to relational tension, I was able to respond with non-judgmental listening and kindly affirm their thoughts and emotions. I am very thankful for the valuable skills taught in YMHFA and how I can use them in my daily life.

If you could assign a superpower to ALGEE the Koala, what would it be? ALGEE could sense, interpret, and help a person identify their emotions.

Jacinta_PicJacinta works to support CBHC’s MHFACO Initiative, and for the Central Colorado Area Health Education Center (CCAHEC) as a Youth Mental Health First Aid Liaison and AmeriCorps volunteer. She looks forward to contributing to the blog by interviewing MHFA Instructors and mental health service providers in Colorado, as well as sharing more about her experience.




Life a Garden, Dig it!

Hi, I am John Bayer the new Youth Mental Health First Aid Liaison. After a year working as a carpenter, I’ve decided to re-explore my passion for volunteer work which has led me to my current position as an AmeriCorps member.  I like to hike, play tennis, and cook (just to name a few things).  In this blog, I hope to share what I am passionate about and how these things have helped me to live a healthy (both mentally and physically) and fulfilling life.

Gardening BlogWhen I moved out to Colorado and was stressed about starting a new job and living in an unfamiliar place, I wasn’t surprised when (with a little thought and less deliberation) I started to garden again.
On the twentieth floor, in my high-rise apartment, I painted a clay pot, bought a bag of soil, shook off the dirt from my first blunder with tomatoes, and resumed gardening.

At the beginning of this summer, I decided to try my hand at gardening. My friend Joe told me that growing things was easy.  All you had to do was buy a few tomato plants and bags of soil and voila, your very own garden.  After buying a few tomato plants and bags of soil (and a few other boring steps we can just fast-forward through), I was pleased to find that I did in fact have my own garden.

Now that I was a full-fledge gardener, I did what any good gardener would do; I watered my plants and watched them grow. And grow they did until a windy night came along and snapped my poor tomato plants right in half.  As you can imagine, I was devastated.  I had invested a solid month watering and pulling weeds.  I watched as the plants doubled in size and sprouted little green tomatoes, only to wake up one morning to find the broken plants.

Gardening wasn’t a complete waste of time though.  While I might have missed out on a few tomatoes, gardening was still a positive experience.  It gave me something to look forward to when I came home from work.  Unlike a chore, gardening gave back.  Watering and pulling weeds wasn’t another dish that had to be scrubbed or room to be cleaned.  It was being outside in the sun, getting my hands dirty, and feeling proud as my plants grew each day.

My challenge to you is (if interested): I recommend you look into gardening as a stress relief and coping strategy too. Gardening isn’t an answer to any problem you might be experiencing, just a fun activity that you might want to consider.   After all, growing things is easy, you just need a few seeds and a bag of soil.

If you do end up gardening or already do, share with us a picture of your garden on Facebook.  I’ll be sure to do the same!

We want YOU…to become a MHFA Instructor!

It could not POSSIBLY be August already. Where has the time gone? From all of us here at the Be a Lifeline blog, we hope you have been enjoying this beautiful (albeit fast) Colorado summer as much as we have. Of course, summer isn’t over yet, but we’re already starting to think towards the future. More specifically, YOUR future. Even more specifically, your future as an Adult Mental Health First Aid instructor.

Seriously though, we’re talking to YOU. Do you to make a difference in your community? Do you want to increase education and decrease stigma surrounding mental health? Do you want to be a part of a network of incredible individuals doing exactly that all across Colorado, the US, and the world? If you answered yes to ANY of those questions, please keep reading to learn about how you could become a Mental Health First Aid instructor NEXT WEEK. This is NOT a drill. Read on.

Mental Health First Aid Colorado is excited to announce an additional Instructor Training opportunity this August 10th-14th.  Mental Health First Aid Colorado is pleased to solicit individuals interested in the strategic expansion of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in their communities. MHFA is a groundbreaking, internationally recognized evidence-based training program to help citizens identify mental health and substance abuse problems, connect individuals to care, and safely de-escalate crisis situations if needed. The Adult MHFA course trains adults assisting other adults.

The MHFA Instructor training is held over five days and is taught by two authorized MHFA trainers connected to at least one of the Mental Health First Aid – USA Authorities. Only participants who have been present for the entire 5-day training will be considered for certification as instructors. Unless, a participant is a current Instructor for the Youth MHFA curriculum, they will only be required to attend the first 2.5 days of training to become certified as an Instructor for the Adult MHFA curriculum.

Key Information:
Dates: August 10th-14th
Time: 8:30a-5:00p Monday-Friday
Location: Sungate Kids (Denver Metro)
Cost: $1,500 per participant
Application: All interested parties must submit and complete the application to be considered eligible. Click here to download the application.

This solicitation process was designed to support individuals who have opportunities to reach out to populations (first responders; government; deaf and hard of hearing; criminal justice; schools; at risk populations, etc) in their community and demonstrate a clear commitment to the mission and values of the Mental Health First Aid initiative.  Preference will be given to candidates who have not had the opportunity to receive MHFA/YMHFA Instructor trainings through their organization or association. All individuals will be asked to complete an application (see attached) to ensure they meet National criteria for Instructors.

If you, or individuals from your community, are interested, please contact Tony Barkey at or by calling 720-573-3590.

MHFA Colorado

Dealing with Loss

For my series, I’ll be talking about my own personal stories, as well as any stories people are willing to share with us. I wanted to start off with a very touching, but very sad story. I have a friend who I’ve known since middle school. My friend had her sister die by suicide last year. It was a very rough time for my friend and her family, and they are all still trying to cope with it. She went through a very rough stage. There were days that her friends and family was worried about her own safety. One day, she took off all her pictures and information on her social media sites, and turned all her profile pictures to a black screen. She posted a very emotional poem about her sister and her emotions concerning her sister’s death.

She then disappeared. She wasn’t responding to any calls or text messages. She basically fell off the face of the earth. People were going to all of her usual hang outs and were setting up different areas to look for her. It was scary for everyone involved because no one knew for sure what was going on. She was gone for most of the day. Thankfully she eventually drove to her father’s house. She told him that she was not okay, and that she needed help. She has been going to therapy ever since. She has been doing things she enjoys more often now though. She is really into drawing and painting. She has even submitted some of her work into art galleries.


At the beginning of the year, there are all the award shows. This year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Film was Big Hero 6. If you haven’t seen Big Hero 6, you should! It is about a kid, Hiro, who meets Baymax. Baymax is an oversized robot that was made by Hiro’s older brother to help people. Hiro becomes friends with all his brother’s friends that he worked with at his school. It’s a very emotional movie; it will make you laugh and it’ll make you cry.


The reason I mention this movie is because my friend dedicated this movie to her sister after it won the Best Animated Film Award. Spoiler Alert!!! My friend felt like she was able to relate to the character of Hiro because Hiro’s brother dies in the movie. She understood what Hiro was going through in the movie. She knew what it felt like to lose a sibling to something that was out of their control. She was able to connect to Hiro as a character in ways I cannot. I think she would have liked a Baymax in her life too; to have someone there to help her get through a day, a week, a month. Like Hiro, my friend is continuing living her life as best she could. She still thinks about her sister, but understands that she needs to keep living her life in the best way she can. It is important to understand that you can keep living in the best way you can…

Photo credits can be found here and here

Alyssa Arnpriester is an intern at Mental Health First Aid Colorado. To hear more from Alyssa, check out her previous post here or enter your email into the Follow box at the right to stay up to date with the Be a Lifeline blog.

You rock. We know. Let’s talk.

Alright, it’s time for some real talk. Well actually, since it’s the middle of the week, maybe it’s time for a really cute picture of a koala first.


Phew, okay, now it’s time for real talk. It’s hard to believe, but the Be a Lifeline blog is now in its fourth month of posting. We are so grateful to be able to share this important conversation space with you, our incredible readers and contributors. Through those four months, we’ve had remarkable guest bloggers, thoughtful staff posts, and engaging events, and we’re so lucky that you’re along for the ride.

Here’s where we’re at now – we need YOU. That’s right, we’re talking to you. No, not your coworker in the next cubicle or your neighbor down the street (although we’d love to talk to them too). You. Why, you might ask? Because we know you have something incredible to share about mental health. Maybe you’ve gleaned important knowledge from your professional life that others would benefit from learning too. Maybe you have lived experience with a mental illness or a mental health challenge and could help us understand that from your perspective. Maybe there’s something awesome going on in your community for mental health and wellness.

Whatever it might be, your voice is crucial to help move us forward in the continual pursuit of increasing education and understanding about mental health and decreasing the stigma and negative perceptions that hold all of us back.

So, here’s our charge: will you be a guest blogger? We can start small with just one post, and then you can decide if you want to keep writing. As long as it relates back to the overall purpose and goals of this conversation space, the sky is the limit on what you can talk about. You can even post anonymously if you’d rather not have your name floating out in cyberspace. If you’re not quite ready to share your story yet, we totally respect that. Just know that if and when you are, we’ll be right here, ready to listen (and read). If you are ready, head on over to the Share a Story tab to start creating your masterpiece now. We’re so excited to hear from you!

And finally, if you’re thinking, “Geez, I would really love to know more about ______________,” or “Wow, I would love to hear about someone else’s experience with ______________,” we want to know! We’ll do our best to find someone with that kind of expertise or experience to share with you. Send us your question or topic idea at the bottom of this page, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Okay, okay – one more koala just for good measure. Happy Wednesday!


Listening to Hear

One question I love to ask fellow therapists is “How is change created?” Ultimately, it is this question that drives every encounter we have, not only in our profession, but in our personal lives as well. The individual’s answer to this question reveals their world view and personal beliefs about who we are and what we desire as humans. It gets the conversation to a deep level pretty quickly!

Many theories on change that we are taught in school boil down to focusing on either a person’s decision making and problem solving strategies, or changing their thought processes to change their behavior. Essentially, if we think positive thoughts, we act well. In response, acting well and getting positive results, increases our positive thoughts. Images of Peter Pan encouraging happy thoughts in order to fly come to mind.

It was in the trenches, once outside of academia, where I found greater clarity regarding change. I experienced that the greatest driver of motivation- and what we are all seeking- is to be heard, understood, and accepted. When those things are achieved, we tend to feel safer, less anxious, less depressed, and have an increase in positive social interactions. It goes a step beyond strategizing the change, and actually provides an experience in which the change and safety is felt in real time in the relationship.

For this reason, my favorite section of MHFA is non-judgmental listening. When presenting to a class, I talk about how this is foundational in approaching the individual and for encouraging engagement both in the moment and in future encounters the person may have with other professionals. I also share how incredibly difficult it is to do well.

In such encounters, we need to:

Monitor and set aside our own desires and goals

Be aware of what we communicate verbally and non-verbally

Be accepting of the individual’s experience of reality without judgment

Monitor and respond the individual’s verbal and non-verbal communications

Be aware of the other environmental factors within and around the crisis

All at the same time!

Without listening- and really hearing- we lose the most powerful tool in our belt. It is the hub from which all other interventions emerge, and the foundation upon which we build safe relationships. On the spectrum of interventions, listening is not just a small introduction into treatment, it is treatment.

Evan Page

Evan Page has specialized in providing therapy for families and teens struggling with trauma, attachment disorder, and mood regulation issues. Evan is currently a therapist with North Range Behavioral Health, serving as the School-Based Engagement Specialist.

The Be a Lifeline blog is so grateful to have Evan as one of our amazing guest bloggers. Be sure to check out his previous posts here and here. Want to learn more about how YOU can become a guest blogger like Evan? Head on over to the Share a Story page now!