Area groups to offer mental health first-aid training

For many people, the term first-aid conjures up thoughts of binding wounds, giving the Heimlich maneuver or administering CPR.

A new program being promoted by the Missouri chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is designed to help add mental health to that list.

Millersburg Christian Church will be offering a free mental health first-aid course broken into two sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 14. The Fulton Kiwanis Club will be hosting the same course in four sessions from 6-9 p.m. on Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30 — all Mondays — at First Christian Church in Fulton.

Beth Haas, who is organizing the class at Millersburg Christian Church, said her church decided to assist NAMI in offering the program to the community because “I don’t know of anything else that hopes to accomplish what it is trying to accomplish.”

“Number one, as mental health dollars dry up or diminish, it makes sense to have people who are right there and can offer — if asked — some kind of resource,” Haas added. “I think it can be absolutely critical, especially after a traumatic event, to have people who can (do this).

“The more of us there are out there who know what to look for, the better.”

Susan Groves, who will be teaching the classes, said the purpose of mental health first-aid is very similar to that for physical first-aid.

“Mental health first-aid is the initial help given to someone who may be developing a mental-health problem or is experiencing a mental-health crisis — someone who is suicidal or psychotic or very, very depressed,” said Groves, a retired music therapist at Fulton State Hospital. “It’s like CPR — you just keep the person alive until they can get to professional help.”

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