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Mental Health First Aid classes held at college

June 5, 2012

West Texas Centers and Howard College are offering two Mental Health First Aid sessions to those interested in knowing how to respond to people with mental health problems.

Classes will be offered during a first session June 19 and 20 and a second session July 24 and 25. Each class will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Howard College with a one-hour lunch break. To register, contact the Howard College Registrar's Office at 264-5131.

Mental Health First Aid helps those experiencing mental health problems before they can obtain professional help and support, said West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith.

"It is similar to first aid and CPR”, Smith said. "It is designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. It is not geared toward professionals in the mental health field, but rather for anyone wanting to learn more about mental health."

Mental health problems — such as depression, anxiety, impulse control and misuse of alcohol and other drugs — are common in the United States, Smith said. More than one in four American adults will have a mental health problem in a year.

The National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare has begun working with communities throughout the nation, including West Texas Centers, to implement Mental Health First Aid to arm the public with skills to help individuals who are developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

The clinical and qualitative evidence behind the program demonstrates that it helps the public better identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness, thus improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these illnesses.

Participants of Mental Health First Aid are introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems; engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families; and get information about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies. They also receive a course manual and a certificate at the completion of the course.

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