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United Way of Northern New Mexico Hosts Mental Health First Aid Training For Public Safety

on August 8, 2017 - 4:51pm


​As a part of the United Way of Northern New Mexico's Behavioral Health(y) Community Initiative, United Way of Northern New Mexico hosted a training, facilitated New Mexico State Police Sergeant​ Kiersten Harzewski for local law enforcement and public safety officials.

"United Way continues to look for ways to help our communities by providing services and resources pertaining to mental and behavioral health," said Kristy Ortega, Executive Director of United Way of Northern New Mexico. "Our hope is to do 1-2 of these training's per year for those who serve in Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties," Ortega said.

Sergeant Harzewski has been in Law Enforcement for 23 years and is currently a member of the State Police Crisis Negotiation Team. "I'm interested in helping officers understand how to hand people with Mental Health Concerns," Harzewski said.

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is an eight-hour course specially designed for police officers, first responders, corrections officers and other public safety professionals, helping them better understand mental illnesses and addictions and providing them with effective response options to deescalate incidents without compromising safety. -

​"Mental Health First Aid is a necessary component for modern day law enforcement," said Cpl. Robert Stephens, who is the current School Resource Officer at Los Alamos Middle School.   Along those same lines, participant Det. Matt Lyon (Los Alamos Police Department) stated, "Mental Health First Aid is a must for law enforcement in today's society."

Also in attendance was Animal Control officer Debra Kramer. "It helps us be more understanding to what others are going through and why."  She was particularly interested in this course and how it applies to folks who have pets in our community.

"This course will make it easier for departments to get their first responders trained in Mental Health and Crisis Awareness, and how to effectively managed both," said Corporal James Keane, LAPD.

For more information on this course and the United Way of Northern New Mexico Behavioral Health(y) Community Initiative, please contact Kristy Ortega at or visit us on the web at