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Mental health first aid trainings

Courses help communities identify, understand, and respond to mental illness

In an effort to help communities identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illness, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging Michigan residents to take a Mental Health First Aid training near them. There are currently more than 30 classes scheduled for the months of June and July across the state.

“We would like to see Mental Health First Aid training become as common and as widely known as traditional first aid courses are,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “Through these courses, we are not only helping reduce stigma by increasing understanding, but we’re helping our residents direct their friends and loved ones to the care they need.”

The MDCH is running online and radio promotions to increase awareness of the trainings to residents throughout Michigan communities. Currently, Mental Health First Aid trainings are being conducted free of charge for those who work or reside within Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Muskegon, Oakland, and Wayne counties. Residents of other counties may take the training for a fee.

Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour training certification course that teaches participants a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual. The certification program introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common treatments. Thorough evaluations in randomized controlled trials and a quantitative study have proved the CPR-like program effective in improving trainees’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing stigma, and increasing the amount of help provided to others.

Mental Health First Aid originated in 2001 in Australia under the direction of founders Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm. To date, it has been replicated in twenty other countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Canada, Finland, and Singapore.

Kent County will hold trainings on Wednesday, July 16 and Tuesday, July 29, at Network 180, 790 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids. To register go to www.network180.org. For additional info, email training@network180.org.

For more information about Mental Health First Aid trainings visit www.michigan.gov/mentalhealthfirstaid.

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