Free Mental Health First Aid course set to train volunteers to assist

Free Mental Health First Aid course set to train volunteers to assist

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Trainers from a variety of public and nonprofit agencies in La Crosse County will help teach Mental Health First Aid courses free to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 22.

Mental Health First Aid, which is available in youth and adult versions, is an eight-hour course that teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to people who are struggling with mental health or substance use challenges and connect them with appropriate support when necessary.

The youth course is intended for adults who want to learn more about adolescent health and how to be more supportive of adolescents.

Registration for the training, to take place at a site to be determined, is open now and will continue until the target number of 150 participants is reached.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 Americans struggles with a mental illness but many are reluctant to seek help or do not know where to find assistance.

Just as CPR/first-aid training prepares people to help someone in a medical emergency, Mental Health First Aid instructs participants on to help people cope with mental health issues.

“The training offers practical information about mental health that everyone in our community can use,” said Diana DiazGranados, project evaluator for Better Together and a Mental Health First Aid trainer. “Everyone walks away with new knowledge and new skills.”

It is especially helpful if someone seems to be in distress, and trained individuals can help decipher if the angst is related to mental health, substance use or another cause, advocates say. Such ability helps determine the approach to use in helping.

“We know that mental health challenges are common, and we want our community to feel more confident in reaching out to be a supportive person to someone who may be struggling,” said La Crosse Police Lt. Avrie Schott, who also is a Mental Health First Aid trainer. During the past two years, more than 600 people in La Crosse County have taken the course.

Trainers will include representatives of Better Together, Independent Living Resources, the La Crosse Police Department, La Crosse County Human Services and the Mental Health Coalition of the Great La Crosse Area.

To register for the training, go to the Better Together website or Survey Monkey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RegisterYMHFA.

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