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Mental Health First Aid

According to Mental Health First Aid USA, “Mental Health First Aid is an in-person training that teaches you how to help persons developing a mental illness or in a crisis.”  A few weeks ago Dubuque County, Iowa hosted a free Mental Health First Aid training to over 30 people.  Participants attended this two day training in order to learn what courses of action should be taken when one is thought to have a mental illness.  Overall, the course helps to educate about mental health and how to help one get the professional services they may need.

Participants of the Dubuque County training were taught the ALGEE action plan, which is a plan taught at all Mental Health First Aid trainings.  This plan helps to step one through how to actively evaluate a situation.  The five steps are:

  1.  Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally
  3. Give reassurance and information
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Stacey Wittrock, one of two who taught the course, explained that her hope is that people will realize how serious mental health is.  She compared it to having a broken leg and simply doing nothing about it.  Peggy Loveless was the other to co-teach the course.

Read the full article, Mental health first aid course teaches warning signs.

This year in Nebraska LB 931 was passed.  This bill provides $100,000 in annual grants to the behavioral health regions in order to implement Mental Health First Aid training throughout the state.  These funds will be used to train 60 people in order to be instructors of the Mental Health First Aid course.  These instructors can then train at least 500 people on this important information in just the first year.

In order to teach the Mental Health First Aid course, persons must become a certified instructor.  On June 2-6, 2014, there will be a training in Kearney, Nebraska. All those who receive this certification will be expected to offer at least three trainings per year.  Up to 12 in the Region 6 community will be selected to be awarded a $325 stipend to help pay for costs of the training.  BHECN is also offering limited funds for lodging on a first come first serve basis.  For more information on this training, please email or call (402) 505-4600.

Mental Health First Aid is an important tool for those in the mental health field.  It is an opportunity to not only educate the community about mental health, but it also helps to fight the stigma often associated with mental illness. The spread of Mental Health First Aid will assist in not only detection, but it can ultimately help to save lives.