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QPR program equips people to help when confronted by mental health emergencies

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What do you do when you witness someone struggling with suicidal thoughts or when someone tells you they intend to harm themselves? The University of Kentucky offers an online program called QPR to equip you with the right answers and actions. Think of it as a CPR program for mental health crises. Dr. Greg talks with Marc Woods, Chief Nursing Officer for Behavioral Medicine at UK HealthCare and Eastern State Hospital about QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade and Refer.

Marc Woods is a nurse executive with more than 27 years of progressive nursing experience, including key management positions throughout UK HealthCare and Eastern State Hospital.

He completed his master’s of nursing with a concentration in nursing administration in 2017 and is currently working on his doctorate of nursing, with a focus in executive leadership, at the University of Kentucky. Prior to working as assistant chief nurse executive in behavioral health, he served in numerous leadership roles at Eastern State Hospital, a facility managed by UK HealthCare.

In 2013, Woods played an integral role in transitioning Eastern State Hospital from its old location to the current facility on Bull Lea Road in Lexington, launching the collaboration with UK HealthCare. He has used that opportunity to move toward providing more integrated behavioral health care for the hospital’s patients in partnership with UK HealthCare.

Woods has driven several quality-based initiatives throughout UK HealthCare, including suicide prevention strategies, special observations, and seclusion and restraint reduction efforts. In 2014, he led an initiative at Eastern State Hospital that addressed seclusion and restraint rates, challenging a decades-long culture of overutilization. The effort yielded a sustained 80% reduction in the use of seclusion and restraint from previous years.

Woods is a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, the American Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders.

From UK Now:

University of Kentucky Human Resources, in collaboration with UK HealthCare's Healthy Kentucky Initiative, is offering a free online training to help employees who know someone affected by mental illness become a mental health champion and learn how to save a life through a research-backed suicide prevention training program.

Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) online training teaches the three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. The QPR mission is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. All staff interested in learning the QPR technique for preventing suicide are invited to take the training. Register for and learn more about the new QPR online training here. UK departments can also request a live QPR training here for their unit.

“QPR suicide prevention training gives participants the education which empowers them to make a positive difference in the life of another individual,” said Ann Bassoni, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health therapist with UK Human Resources. “The program teaches individuals to ask the most difficult question most hope they never have to ask, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself?’”

UK HR has a full range of mental and emotional health resources for employees including short-term individual counseling, health coaching, workshops and on demand content like the '"Becoming Wildly Resilient" podcast.

“The addition of QPR training is one example of our ongoing effort to take care of our people,” said Jody Ensman, UK HR well-being director. “Mental and emotional health are critical to one’s overall well-being. We want our employees to know we are here for them when they need it, and we’re ready to meet them where they are on their unique well-being journey.”

If you or someone you know is currently in distress, immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (call, text or chat) or 800-273-TALK (8255) to be routed to the local Lifeline network crisis center. For non-crisis emotional and coping support, please call the NAMI Lexington WarmLine at 877-840-5167 (1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday).

Additional info on QPR:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline