With the pandemic, the civil unrest, the drought, and then the derecho, some Iowans have been stressed for months.
The Iowa State University Extension is offering a program starting next week that’s designed to help us to help each other cope. David Brown, a behavioral health specialist with the ISU Extension, explains the goals of the Mental Health First Aid program.
“The whole purpose of the program is to teach individuals a little bit more about mental health and signs and symptoms of when someone may be developing a mental health issue,” Brown says. “It teaches you a five-step action plan to help individuals intervene and make sure the person is safe, and actually gets them to the appropriate professional support.”
It’s a comprehensive, four-hour training session which aims to help participants identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. “What we’re trying to do is build a community of people that can take care of each other and make sure we get the right help when the need is needed,” Brown says. “There’s a lot of stress out there right now and we’re certainly hoping that more individuals are willing to step up and learn more about mental health and how to help someone else.”
The Mental Health First Aid training will be offered over the next several weeks via Zoom. The first edition will be held next Thursday (September 24th) and again on October 1st and 15th, November 5th and 19th, and finally on December 10th.
“We’ve been offering this program face-to-face since 2018, so we’ve been offering it for a while,” he says, “but the National Council on Behavioral Health has decided to turn this into a virtual program due to the COVID situation.”
The cost is $35. There is a two-hour self-study course which needs to be completed prior to taking the Zoom course. Register at: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/MHFA
(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)