If someone is having a panic attack, do you know how to help?
Can you recognize the signs of depression, anxiety or a substance use disorder in a friend or family member?
Rosecrance continues to help the public better understand these issues by providing training in Mental Health First Aid USA, a groundbreaking education program that helps people identify and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Rosecrance started offering the eight-hour training course in 2013.
Twenty-seven people – including social workers, counselors, first responders and nurses – attended a June 13 course taught by Sarra Reichwald, Rosecrance’s talent management coordinator, at the same campus. The group was comprised of mostly Rockford-area organizations, but the training also drew people from the Chicago suburbs, Iowa and Wisconsin.
While basic first aid trains people how to respond with techniques such as CPR during a medical emergency, the mental health training aims to teach people how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer support through early intervention.
“It’s being very intentional about making sure you’re helping someone as soon as you see the potential for what could be a mental health or substance abuse issue,” Reichwald said.
Those who take the course learn a five-step action plan to respond to individuals who are in a mental health crisis until they can be linked with appropriate help, possibly professional care.
That response plan is summed up by the mnemonic device ALGEE:
Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
Give reassurance and information.
Encourage appropriate professional help.
Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
Teri Lafferty, pastor at Evans United Methodist Church in Machesney Park, attended the summer training in an effort to be proactive in her work with people. Shortly after the training, Lafferty said she was better prepared to talk with a young person who had had suicidal thoughts.
“I never know what might happen when I meet with someone, so I value these trainings a great deal,” Lafferty said.
Check back at rosecrance.org/events in the future to see if more MHFA sessions are available.