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Posted on: May 22, 2023

Mental Health First Aid Training Save Lives


Mental Health First Aid Training Save Lives

If you saw someone suffering from a heart attack, you might perform CPR or call 9-1-1. Or you might use the Heimlich maneuver to save someone from choking. But how would you help someone who appeared to be suffering from a substance use disorder or who may be struggling with a mental health issue? 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to create awareness for Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). This evidence-based, eight-hour training course, which was first developed in Australia, 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. 

“First Aiders are instrumental to our community because they provide the initial support to those who are suffering, often encouraging them to take that first step on the path toward wellness,” said Kim Anderson, Director of McLean County Health Department Maternal & Child Health Services Division. 

The Mental Health First Aid Collaborative was formed in April of 2014 through the unified efforts of: the McLean County Health Department; McLean County Center for Human Services; Central Illinois Area Health Education Center, Illinois State University; Carle BroMenn Medical Center; and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. This collaborative group hosts Mental Health First Aid training throughout the county. 

Since the Mental Health First Aid Collaborative began providing trainings in 2014, more than 2,700 McLean County residents have been trained to recognize, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. 

The MHFA training focuses on one of three areas: Adults; Older Adults; and Youth (age 12-18). Students learn skills such as: when and how to approach someone who may need help; listening non-judgmentally; assessing the risk for harm or suicide; providing reassurance and information; and how to connect them to self-help, professional help, or other local services so they can overcome barriers that might prevent them from accessing care. 

The McLean County Mental Health First Aid Collaborative is looking for new First Aiders who want to offer these skills to their community, their employers, their schools, or their places of worship. We are also looking for community partners who may wish to host classes for their specific group. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid training classes, or for information about becoming a trainer, call (309) 888-5539 or visit the MHFA page of the MCHD website.

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