SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., Certified Public Accountants based in Holyoke, MA, have made a $10,000 donation to the Mental Health Association (MHA, Inc.) to fund Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training for MHA’s direct care staff.

“To train in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention is an important professional development opportunity for MHA staff,” said Cheryl Fasano, President & CEO of MHA, Inc. “MHA does not use physical restraint in any form so our staff members need skills to safely de-escalate and manage challenging behaviors in a non-violent manner. Our training curriculum from Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) goes further by also helping better equip our staff to prevent difficult situations from escalating. That’s good for the safety of our staff and the benefit of the people we care for. This kind of specialized training is not covered under the state contracts that fund the operation of our programs. Generous gifts like the one from Meyers Brothers Kalicka make these professional development opportunities possible.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to contribute to the training and programing at the Mental Health Association,” said Rudy D’Agostino, Partner, Meyers Brothers Kalicka. “We applaud the challenging work that the professionals at MHA take on every day and understand that Non-Violent Crisis Intervention is an important tool for those professionals. Seeking resolutions through de-escalation and helping individuals find the care and treatment they need to heal and grow is an important mission. We’re proud to partner with MHA.”

Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) is an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior management methods that focus on prevention. CPI educates and empowers professionals to create safe and respectful work environments and enrich the lives of the individuals they serve. Since 1980, over 10 million professionals around the world have participated in CPI training programs.

Jason MacLeod, Director of Training for MHA, oversees the organization and delivery of CPI training for MHA staff. “We kicked off our training in the summer of 2019 using CPI’s train-the-trainer model,” said MacLeod. “Three staff members and I took part in a four-day session led by experienced CPI facilitators. Since then, the four of us have been training MHA’s direct care staff and supervisors who work with residents of our programs every day. About 150 staff members have been certified to date and we are working to have everyone certified by the end of 2020. In addition, all new direct care staff members are trained in CPI’s methods as part of their onboarding. Demand for the training is high as the agency continues to grow, and MHA’s leadership team is considering whether other members of staff should be trained as well.”

MacLeod pointed to the need for greater space to accommodate CPI training. “There’s a lot of physical skill building, role playing and practice going on,” he explained. “Staff training is a full eight-hour day with one or two trainers depending on the size of the trainee class. Trainers and the staff they train all need to recertify every two years. Staff are finishing our training with vocal, enthusiastic comments about how it improves their ability to do their job. That was a goal going in, so we’re excited.”

“During a crisis, we have to call for emergency services, which can often lead to the temporary removal of the person to another setting and potentially the use of additional medications,” said Fasano. “This can be disruptive or even traumatic for that person, as well as for any family members involved. The CPI Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training helps our staff to recognize individual triggers and signs of each person in our care who is at risk for having a crisis event, and to help prevent people from reaching that point. The training also helps our staff to more effectively de-escalate a situation if a person does enter a crisis state. This will help create a safer, more stable living and working environment for everyone in our residential and visiting support programs.”

MacLeod noted that CPI embraces core values of Care, Welfare, Safety and Security. “Though the words are different, the message and philosophy are closely aligned with MHA’s core values of Respect, Integrity and Compassion,” he said. “It’s about the ways you focus on building a two-way relationship based on mutual respect, and how you effectively utilize that relationship to safely support a person when they’re feeling most vulnerable. As human beings, we tend to react to things with a survival instinct and consider to the worst possible outcome to protect ourselves. Our CPI curriculum helps staff to be responsive rather than reactive, with less need to control the person and more skill to control the situation. It’s a way for our staff to express what they do that makes them good at what they do. It’s rewarding to be a part of such an approach.”