Mental health first aid provides skills

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MEEKER I One in four Americans have some sort of mental health disorder, from anxiety to schizophrenia to substance abuse disorders.
In day-to-day life we are far more likely to meet someone having a mental or emotional crisis than we are to happen upon a heart attack victim or someone choking in a restaurant. Yet very few people know how to respond to someone in a mental or emotional crisis. Recognizing the signs of a mental health crisis and being able to respond appropriately can save a life, just like knowing CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver.
That thought was the seed for Mental Health First Aid classes, which are now offered nationwide.
A collaboration of community groups hosted the second set of Mental Health First Aid classes in Meeker last week. The training session was dedicated to Patricia Thompson, “for her outstanding work in the social service field and her dedication to helping others.”
According to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, “Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based program, which uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis, select interventions and provide initial help. The training also addresses the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance use disorders.”
“The training program was used in Tucson, Ariz., last year after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford to help that community recognize mental health issues and know what to do when faced with situations with people,” said Colorado West Regional Mental Health, Inc. program director Margot Robb.
Robb said the collaborative effort between the recreation center, Colorado West, RBC Department of Human Services, and CET was a “great example of community collaboration” and praised the response from the community to want to learn to help people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
“I think everyone left feeling like they understood mental health and substance abuse issues much better and we will now have a much more responsive, empathetic group of people using these skills,” Robb added.