Josselyn Center hosts free Mental Health First Aid training for Evanston residents


Courtesy of the Josselyn Center

From the Josselyn Center, a community center for mental health.

Katrina Pham, Reporter

After four hours of virtual training on Friday, Jan. 22, Evanston residents became certified Mental Health First Aid responders. The training, based on Mental Health First Aid USA, was the first of three free sessions available to the public throughout January and February and hosted by the Josselyn Center, a community mental health clinic.

Susan Resko, CEO of the Josselyn Center, along with coworkers Maggie Nash and Becky Schulman hope the course will give Evanston residents and members of the NorthShore University HealthSystem the skills to have open conversations about mental health.

“It’s a first step in destigmatizing and starting that conversation,” Nash said. “When you give and provide the tools for people, they want to talk about it and have that space.” 

Nash said the training helps spread the message that mental health challenges are normal, as they are not often talked about.

Amy Holcomb, experiential learning supervisor at the Skokie Public Library, said she wanted to participate in the training because of the interactions she has with library patrons.

“I reached a point where I felt depleted of empathy,” Holcomb said. “It was a good refresher, and put me in a better position to really listen to what my staff are saying and also to notice their changes in behavior.”

Holcomb also said the course is important because it helps participants create a more inclusive and understanding environment in their everyday lives. In doing so, she said it lets people who are battling mental illness not feel as though they are “othered.” 

As the pandemic brings an increasing toll on those experiencing mental health challenges, Resko said the course is more useful than ever.

“Our numbers have doubled in the past year,” Resko said. “The need for our services has just exploded and we’re working so hard to try to meet that need and to hire new clinicians, so that we can be there to support people.”

Schulman added that the course is beneficial for everyone, regardless of where they work.

“We live in a tough place sometimes,” Schulman said. “For every kind of community member, whether you’re a parent, a teen, a teacher, or you work in a corporation or a business, this program could be applicable for all.”

To participate in one of the two upcoming training sessions on Friday, Feb. 5, or Tuesday, Feb. 9, Evanston residents can register online at

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @KatrinaPham_


Local pediatrician Andy Bernstein talks quarantine pods, mental health

NU alumna Dr. Coco Cabrel teaches dance and meditation to boost mental health amid pandemic

Seasonal affective disorder threatens students’ already eroding mental health