WDI Support Enables Essex County Mental Health Services to Launch New QPR Program

Susan Stark


Essex County Mental Health Services (ECMH) is a North Country governmental agency designed to provide community members with opportunities to improve their emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being through therapeutic partnerships with mental health professionals. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, ECMH has experienced a massive increase in the number of crisis calls and has received several requests for training and resources related to suicide prevention. Specifically, calls/requests rose by 60% from roughly 870 in 2019 to 1,400 in 2020, and are on track to rise again as reflected by calls/requests to date in 2021. A recent call from a delivery driver who encountered a person possibly at risk of suicide was resolved, but together with the overall rise in numbers prompted ECMH to take action to prevent and mitigate similar situations. Through the use of WDI’s grants program, ECMH launched a pilot program to provide staff with the Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) instruction and certification necessary to deliver suicide prevention training to local worksites. Employers and employees participating in the QPR training are expected to develop the skills and knowledge needed to keep their staff, co-workers, and families safe. Learn more about Building Resilience in Essex Families (BRIEF) Coalition’s QPR training.

ECMH is hopeful that employers will adopt QPR as an ongoing staff training requirement and broaden the overall reach of the program. With the isolation, economic stress, illness, grief, and other challenges accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services are more important than ever.

We look forward to learning about the longer term community impact of this training program.