Creating Listening Communities

31 Oct Creating Listening Communities

“The presentation this weekend was incredibly helpful and insightful and truly made me realize how important listening is to saving lives.”                   
Mental Health First Aid Trainee
For more than 40 years, Caring Contact has been building one-on-one connections through active listening. Our volunteers listen, lending a non-judgmental ear and personally connecting with those who call our hotline. Inside the call room, we are a resource for people going through difficult times and looking for someone to listen.
Now, in response to increased community needs, we are leveraging our efforts and bringing our mission more fully to the public. We are creating “Listening Communities” all around us. Through training and education, we are helping first responders, teachers, students, and other members of our community learn the active listening skills that help support those struggling with emotional distress. And, we are promoting open discussion about emotional distress, mental health issues and suicide, helping to remove stigma and make it easier for people to ask for help.
On October 19, 2016, we piloted the first of our first responder trainings with the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad. The training is designed to provide hands-on skills for first responders to help individuals in emotional distress. It highlights the power of active listening, ways to provide empathy and calm, the basics of suicide intervention, and the importance of self care for first responders. As one of the 22 attendees noted,
“This training has helped me be self aware and going into a situation and not be judgmental. This is a good reminder to try and connect with patients more on a feeling level. In my work on the squad, I have some new skills and words to use. The need for self care was emphasized throughout the whole presentation and that is so important for all of the work that we do. I learned techniques that will help me be a better listener on a call. I think this will also be beneficial in supporting each other.”    
Joe Plocinski, 5 years on the squad
We are looking forward to working with other First Aid Squads in Union County, sharing the power of active listening and giving our first responders the tools they need to help those in emotional, as well as physical pain.
In addition, we have relationships with the following schools and teen youth groups who are interested in helping their students, as well as teachers and counselors, benefit from learning how to be better listeners:
     * Abraham Clark High School, Roselle
     * Phillips Academy Charter School, Newark
     * Roosevelt Middle School, Westfield
     * Roselle Park High School, Roselle Park
     * St. Helen’s Church Youth Group, Westfield


Caring Contact’s best-in-class training, including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) build sensitivity, empathy, and understanding. These trainings provide the right tools to care for and connect with those in crisis.


Join us in creating ‘listening communities,” where our neighborhoods will be safer, more compassionate places for people seeking support.