First aid courses teach us how to care for one another in the event of a physical injury or illness. But what do we do when a friend, coworker or acquaintance comes to us with mental anguish that may require a professional's help?
Mental Health First Aid teaches untrained residents to recognize symptoms of mental health conditions, how to provide initial help and how to guide the person to the appropriate help.
The Missouri Department of Mental Health has a grant that will allow faith-based agencies to offer this program and the 12 hours of training through February 2012.
Each group can offer the training for little cost, said Karen Farris, project coordinator for Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare. The host group will need to provide space and snacks, and they recommend providing lunch for program participants.
"There needs to be space for 26 people, a wall or large screen for projections and food for the event," she said.
A program like this, which is taught by certified and trained staff would cost about $150-$200 per person, were there a charge.
"This program augments what pastors and other clergy are already doing when a person comes to them with concerns or issues," Farris said. "In rural areas especially, there may not be access to mental health professionals. These trusted people (pastors and clergy) are often the first people who may notice something that needs further attention.
The Missouri Department of Health was awarded the $300,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to be used over two years.
Area training sessions will be held Oct. 21-22 at Faith Lutheran Church in Jefferson City. Call (573) 636-4603 to register. Another training will be held Oct. 25-26 at the Rickman Center in Jefferson City. To register for that event, call (573) 635-0848.
For more information on the program, call Farris at (573) 418-8462.