Mental health 'first aid' training for family and friends helps loved ones respond in crisis

school anxiety

In Daytona Beach, Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare is holding eight-hour "mental health first aid" classes for anyone to attend.

The classes teach an understanding of common mental illnesses and what to do if they're manifesting in a loved one, friend or classmate. The classes are designed to give people the tools they need to be a "first responder" to a mental health crisis at a time when trained personnel are few and far between.

A focus on education

The classes focus on illnesses like schizophrenia, substance abuse and similar psychiatric problems that can often lead to a breakdown or serious altercation in public. The classes also showcase resources for those in need so that they can be guided towards them to avoid problems such as confrontations with law enforcement or involuntary admissions.

Classes like this are popping up on mental health campuses and in community centers around the nation. Most are organized and run by counselors, psychologists, and concerned people who see budget cuts and limited resources making services more and more scarce for those in need.

The classes are often being taught to law enforcement, medical personnel, etc. These classes are often modeled on a pioneering "mental health first aid" class taught in Melbourne, Australia, that has now become a global phenomenon being taught in at least 18 other countries besides the United States.

Check community calendars and bulletins to find a class near you.


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