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Mental Health First Aid to Be Offered by SalusCare

Do you know the danger signs of mental illness or substance abuse?  If your child suddenly experiences depression or withdrawal from enjoyable activities, would you know what to do?

Now there’s a nationally recognized day-long program to help parents, friends and neighbors identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse before a crisis occurs.

Called “Youth Mental Health First Aid,” the program is offered by SalusCare, Inc., the largest, most comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program in Southwest Florida.

Approximately 10 percent of children in the United States will suffer from a mental illness this year, making mental disorders more common than heart disease and cancer combined as the leading causes of death, according to SalusCare officials.

The eight-hour class will be offered Wednesday, Feb. 18, at SalusCare’s Evans Avenue Campus at 3763 Evans Avenue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The class costs $25, including all training materials.

Registration is available at www.saluscareflorida.org by printing and completing the form and mailing to SalusCare, Attn: MH First Aid, 3763 Evans Ave., Fort Myers, FL  33901.

Mental Health First Aid is managed and operated by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and is endorsed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All classes are taught by Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors.

“Just as CPR training helps a layperson with no clinical training, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. The goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives,” said Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor Laura Youngfleisch, who is clinical manager of children’s outreach mental health services at SalusCare, Inc.

Participants will learn a simple five-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual, and identifying appropriate help and other supports.

The training is ideal for parents, teachers, leaders of faith communities, human resources professionals and caring citizens.  Each class is limited to 25 participants.

The class already has been offered to first responders, such as law enforcement, with good results, Youngfleisch said.

“People who have taken the course tell us they have a better understanding of mental health signs and symptoms and how to apply what they have learned in an everyday setting. One participant said, ‘learning what to do and how to help was an invaluable experience.’”

Youngfleisch also reported that another responder said, “This course was not only informative and helpful, but the instructors made it a lot of fun to complete.”

Mental Health First Aid is available for both adult and youth populations and can be tailored for specific groups such as schools, child care centers, businesses, senior living facilities, and healthcare organizations.  Sessions can be scheduled at a location of their choice at a time that is convenient for them.

For more information, contact Youngfleisch at 239-791-1536 or email her at LYoungfleisch@SalusCareFlorida.org .