Mental health first aid class offered next week

In an effort to help people spot and address the signs of mental crisis, Colorado West will host a course on mental health first aid certification from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 19-21 in the hospital’s Building A Training Lab at 515 28 3/4 Road.

The three-day training will help participants spot and understand symptoms of mental illness and follow a five-step plan to help people in mental crisis. Those steps include assessing the risk of a mentally ill person in crisis committing suicide or harming others, listening to the person without judgment and encouraging him or her to seek proper help from a professional.

The course costs $50 per person or $25 for seniors or students with a student ID. Registration is available by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or calling 683-7110.

Colorado West Marketing Director Chriss Flynn said the program aims to help remove the stigma of mental illness and encourage people to seek mental health treatment before a situation becomes dangerous to a mentally ill person or to others. The importance of recognizing signs of mental crisis and knowing what to do when those signs appear have been highlighted in recent tragedies, Flynn said.

“There are a lot of situations right now where people say, ‘If only I had done something,’ ” Flynn said. “This is a program designed to help people recognize the symptoms and be able to make a difference.”

The mental health first aid certification program was developed in 2001 in Australia and moved to the United States in 2008. Community organizations and mental health providers like Colorado West implement the certification curriculum worldwide.

Colorado West has been training six mental health first aid instructors for about a year and plans to roll out a series of 18 training sessions in 2013 beginning this month, according to Flynn. The courses will take place throughout Colorado West’s coverage area in the northwest quarter of Colorado and will take place again in Grand Junction. The months and places where classes will be offered are posted on Colorado West’s website at Specific dates are still being determined, Flynn said.

The program also will be offered through Colorado West in a form intended for people who work with teens starting this fall, Flynn added.


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