Mental Health First Aid Certification Training


To receive your Mental Health First Aid Certificate:


1. Visit the registration link at
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page
3. Click on the "register here" button.
4. Select the category for youth aged 12-18.
5. Fill out the registration form completely.
6. Once completed, submit the form.


According to the United States Department of Education, the mental health crisis for children and youth has reached a critical point. The national pandemic exacerbated existing alarming trends in mental health concerns. As schools and programs have returned to full in-person learning, there is an unprecedented need to equip speech language pathologists with resources needed to recognize and respond appropriately in the face of a possible mental health crisis.

This Mental Health First Aid Certification training is designed to teach Speech Language Pathologists how to help children and youth (ages 12-18) who are experiencing mental health or addiction challenges. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders.

At the end of this certification, participants will be able to:

  1. Define mental health
  2. Define mental health crisis
  3. Recall the steps required to assess risk factors related to suicide.
  4. Recall the steps required to listen non judgmentally.
  5. Define the nonlinear framework required to utilize in recognizing a crisis:
    • Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
    • Listen non judgmentally.
    • Give reassurance and information.
  6. Encourage appropriate professional help.
  7. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
  8. Recall the steps required to give reassurance and information.
  9. Recall the steps required to encourage appropriate professional help.
  10. Recall psychosis and substance abuse disorders
  11. Recall the signs and symptoms of suicidal and non-suicidal injuries.
  12. Recall resources available to help children and youth at risk for mental health crisis and/or suicidal behaviors.

This course will be offered during the convention in four parts. You can attend any sessions you would like, but if you would like the certification, you must attend all four parts. the times are listed below.

Fri., Feb. 2  4:00pm-5:30pm -  Session: 34 - Part I


 Sat., Feb. 3  8:30am-10:00am - Session: 38 - Part II


 Sat., Feb. 3  10:15am-11:45am - Session: 42 - Part III


Sat., Feb. 3 12:00pm-1:30pm - Session: 47 - Part IV



Meet the Speakers


Cindye Richburg Cotton, Ed. D, MBA, MS serves as Executive Director for the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center in West Columbia, S.C. since April 30, 2018. She has an extensive background in senior management of nonprofit organizations and higher education as an administrator and educator. For over five (5) years, she has served as Adjunct Professor of Business Information and Analytics in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Richburg Cotton served as executive director of continuing education and online degree programs at Claflin University and director of the Management-Institute Advance Program at Morris College. She has over 30 years of experience in management and teaching in higher education including subjects like international business, business analytics, civil law, social theory and research methods.  As an adjunct professor, she worked at several colleges and universities over the years including Florida International University, Benedict College, Piedmont Technical College, Midlands Technical College, and Central Carolina Technical College.  She is a graduate of the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina holding a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in International Business. She also holds graduate degrees including the Doctor of Education and the Master of Science degrees from Florida International University. Dr. Richburg Cotton received her undergraduate degree from Florida Atlantic University. A native of Clarendon County, South Carolina, she is a proud 1984 graduate of Scott's Branch High School.  Dr. Richburg Cotton’s has authored several publications and has been successful in securing grants for many of her community initiatives over the years.

Joan McFadden-Harris currently works in University Administration as a Program Coordinator and Assistant to the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of South Carolina. She is also the Assessment Coordinator for the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center Mental Health Awareness Training Initiative Program.  She holds both a master’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in English Education. Joan is currently enrolled as part-time student in Counseling, Ed.S. at the University of South Carolina on the School Track. Developing strong relationships, both professionally and personally, is the foundation of everything Joan does. She has three grown sons and five granddaughters. Joan enjoys spending time with family and friends, international travel, and is an avid Star Trek fan.

Reginald Rearden serves as the Project Coordinator for Mental Health Awareness Training Initiative at Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. He is also a Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Mr. Rearden has 22 years of Mental Health experience at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health in Columbia, SC (South Carolina). He worked for 17 years in Psychology as a Clinical Counselor where he facilitated group therapy sessions, conducted individual counseling, and implemented Behavioral Modification Programs. He also served on the treatment team to implement treatment modalities to improve the client's well-being. He served as a Patient and Family Educator for 5 years conducting educational classes teaching about Mental Disorders. He served as a Client Advocate (ADHOC position) at the Department of Mental Health as a Patient’s Right’s Specialist. Mr. Rearden also served as a contractual ADSAP Group Leader at LRDAC facilitating their DUI groups. He serves as an Advisor at Trinity Baptist Church to the following ministries: Health and Wellness Ministry, Grant Writing Ministry and Celebrate Recovery Ministry. Mr. Rearden received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Benedict College in Columbia, SC, a Certification for Drug and Alcohol Abuse from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC. He has done further studies at the School of Social Work at the University of South Carolina Graduate School, in Columbia, SC.

Mark Sellers is a Certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer for adults and for adults who work with youth in the Mental Health Awareness Training Initiative Program at the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. He is also the Founder of Men’s Re-Entry Initiative (MRI) which is a 501 c 3 organization established in July 2014 that addresses the community call to action to educate and support incarcerated men and women in group style settings in Richland, Kershaw and Lee Counties prisons and jails. MRI is designed to address recidivism by introducing critical thinking, problem solving, and re-direction of behavior to trauma responses.  MRI also provides post release services.   Due to Covid 19, post releases services are offered virtually.  Mark has been an activist in various populations including HIV health, mental health, substance abuse, and is committed to the empowerment of various communities.