MUSCATINE, Iowa–While many people know what to do if someone comes to them with a cut, a bad headache, or an upset stomach, many do not know what to do if someone needs mental health assistance. Just as traditional first aid courses have given many people the confidence they need to assist when medical situations arise, ISU Extension and Outreach for Muscatine County hopes to empower people to take action to help people with mental health concerns through their upcoming adult mental health first aid training.
When the Muscatine County Extension Office started looking for new ways to help the community, Muscatine County Extension and Outreach Director Heidi Hoffman felt focusing on mental health just made sense. “Council members, at a small group meeting, challenged us to come up with ways we could benefit the county; we thought mental health was important because it touches everyone,” she said.
At the adult mental health first aid training, offered Nov. 15 at the Muscatine County Extension Office at 1601 Plaza Place in Muscatine from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., participants will learn the basics of identifying and responding to people with mental heath concerns. Students in the class will start out learning some of the signs and symptoms of people experiencing mental illness, techniques for engaging with thrm, and resources they can share with to help them get the assistance they need to start feeling better. Additionally, attendees will also learn the difference between crisis and non-crisis mental health situations and what to do in each. People who take the class will also receive a free lunch.
A new way for people to help their friends, loved ones, and colleagues facing mental illness, Hoffman considers the adult mental health first aid training an outstanding opportunity for people in any career field. “We’re excited because we see how it can help people in many situations,” she stated. “You never know when you’ll be in one of those situations, and hopefully this can help.”
For businesses that would like to train their employees in adult mental health first aid, the Extension Office can provide private classes as well. Groups simply need to have 15 to 30 people willing to participate and to set up a day to do the training on.
All adult mental health first aid trainings require preregistration through the Extension Office’s website and a registration fee of $80. Thanks to a grant ISU Extension and Outreach received, any farmers or professionals who regularly work with farmers may attend for free using the code AGPRO at registration. All interested participants must register by the end of the day Nov. 2. With space limited to about 25 participants, Hoffman encourages people to register at their earliest convenience.
Currently, the National Institute for Mental Health estimates that one in five adults in the United States suffers from a mental illness. Each day, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates 123 people die from suicide. To help more people with mental illness overcome their diseases and prevent suicide, Hoffman encourages everyone to learn more about mental health first aid. “More people are struggling than ever, so this gives people a way to help,” she emphasized.