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Mental health first aid class teaches life-saving tips

Posted: 4:48 PM, Jul 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-24 18:48:48-04

BOISE — The Speedy Foundation, a local group whose mission is suicide prevention and ending the stigma around mental health, held a one day, eight-hour mental health first aid class for adults.

"I want to be able to help people, and I want to have a plan when there's a situation," said attendee Allie Gooding.

Allie Gooding is retired and just wants to help others in her community, while other students work in the medical field. This course does not make them a mental health professional, but it adds another tool to their toolbox for communicating effectively for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

"We use an acronym that's ALGEE, that's assessing for risk of suicide, listening non-judgmentally to not let their own, personal biases interfere with that, give reassurance and information, and encourage the person to seek professional help or to utilize some self-help strategies," said co-instructor Jane Francis.

The course uses lectures, videos, and interactive lessons to help students visualize what signs and symptoms to work for.

"We'll do some case scenarios, we have a lot of examples of somebody who's in ad depressed state, somebody who's in a suicidal state and we'll have the group engage with each other about what would we do here, what are the helpful things to say," said Francis.

It's a full day's worth of coursework, but the skills learned can save lives.

"You know, mental health or mental illness affects us all, and it gives you a way to try to know more, for me, more logically what you can do to help another person," said Gooding.

The course largely focuses on how to help those with depression, anxiety, and it also touches on psychosis. At the end of the course, participants earned a certificate, but it also offers course credit for those continuing their education. The next course is happening in August, and there will be a class for youth as well.