Brenda Petersen is a mental health awareness advocate and suicide prevention and awareness specialist. She is currently a certified trainer and spokesperson for The National Council for Behavioral Health’s Mental Health First Aid and the QPR suicide prevention programs, traveling nationwide to build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of both mental illness and mental health crisis, both of which can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. She is also endorsed via SAMHSA for Whole Health Action Management behavioral health education. As an instructor in Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, QPR Suicide Prevention and Awareness Training, and Psychological First Aid for disaster planning, she is also the primary instructor for mental health and suicide awareness for law enforcement and other public service officials in this area.
Brenda is the CEO and founder of Cervelle Consulting Services, Inc., a consulting and tutoring firm specializing in achievement, education, and awareness for pre-K through graduate level students. She assists a large client base of individuals, families, and businesses who each are working towards achieving wellness and understanding in their lives. It is her goal to empower students of all ages by equipping them with the ability to understand and implement their own learning strengths in both academia and everyday life choices. The Cervelle team of tutors are endorsed in various educational endorsements including special education and early childhood development. Cervelle also offers curriculum development and standardized test preparations, coping mechanism development for students struggling with education anxiety issues, and WHAM (Whole Health Action Management) classes to help students and adults develop resiliency skills.
The stigma surrounding mental health care in America continues to be a shroud that covers the many opportunities available to people in rural areas. The untrue belief that
mental health crises are not typical continues to be a determining factor regarded when seeking help is necessary. As people are given the opportunity to become more educated about mental health care and how to recognize the signs and symptoms at the early stages of a mental health crisis, it is possible to break the stigma while also growing resources in rural areas. The more citizens who are educated and made more aware of the early onset signs and symptoms of mental health crises, the more people able to offer immediate support. This newfound support will potentially help more crises can be diverted and coping skills and support systems utilized. According to the CDC, Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die by suicide. This lack of awareness and understanding regarding the hopelessness surrounding a suicide is one of the causes for people not to seek professional or community-based support.
From as far back as the days of Manifest Destiny, and the pioneers traveling through to begin a new chapter of life, the spirit of the pioneer has been present in rural America. The pioneers learned quickly that to survive in the ravages of the unsettled plains they would have to be tough. That toughness has persevered through to today, and with it has come a stigma surrounding mental health and the understanding and awareness of suicide.The more educated a community becomes about these things, the more likely it is to rally support for those in their community, building a community-based support system, that can act as the first line of defense in times of trauma, allowing citizens to become more aware of those who are struggling in a mental health crisis on a daily basis. Offering support and education to those in rural areas achieves a new level of understanding and awareness, so a new line of support can be developed in communities that can potentially offset a mental health crisis and allow people to acquire the next level of professional services in a timely manner.