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Your Healthy Family: David Lawrence Centers offers Mental Health First Aid

Posted at 9:55 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 09:55:35-04

NAPLES, Fla. — One in five people deal with some kind of mental health issue. With recent mass shootings and a rise in suicides, recognizing the signs of a mental health issue is more important than ever before. The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health is making that happen with its Mental Health First Aid courses.

"Just as CPR and basic first aid are common knowledge so they know how to intervene medically, this is the same principle," Jessica Liria, the Community Outreach Specialist for the David Lawrence Centers, said.

She said the goal is for everyone to be able to intervene when someone's in a mental health situation.

"Mental health first aid is a globally recognized evidence-based training program," she said.

Anyone in the community can take it. The David Lawrence Centers has five trained instructors. You sign up for the course online, and it will teach you how to spot when someone's having a mental health issue, and lay out an action plan so you feel comfortable and confident stepping in to help.

"Understanding how to go about doing that and understanding what to say or what to do, or what kind of a presence to have in front of somebody as they're working through some of their struggles, and really just having compassion," Liria said.

One module helps in dealing with other adults having a mental health issue. Liria said the course would be good for caregivers, neighbors, friends, loved ones, employees or colleagues.

The other module helps in dealing with children and teens having a mental health issue.

"We really recommend that for parents, coaches, youth, pastors, teachers, anybody in the education system," Liria said.

Madison McNally, the Chief Program Officer for the STARability Foundation in Collier County, took the Youth Mental Health First Aid course.

"As soon as I found out about the training, I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity for myself, as well as our staff," McNally said.

The STARability Foundation is a nonprofit that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"A lot of the participants that we serve in our community actually have secondary conditions such as depression, anxiety, et cetera," McNally said.

They work with both teens and adults, so McNally is signed up for the next adult module, too.

The training breaks down into two different sections: crisis situations and non-crisis situations.

"At what point do those signs and symptoms go from being early or worsening signs to then crisis signs? And how do I then distinguish those two? What resources might be different depending on what a person is going through?" Liria said.

She said the courses are especially important right now, because of the current trends at the David Lawrence Centers.

"We're seeing record numbers for crisis stays and individuals coming into our crisis unit for attempted suicide or thoughts of suicide," she said.

McNally said the mental health first aid training has helped them create a plan if someone is in a mental health crisis.

"Maybe it's something within a staff member, maybe it's an individual that you serve, maybe it's someone that's off the street. What would you do if an individual that is going through a mental health crisis walks into your facility? How would you manage that?" she said.

"We all have the power to make such a big difference," Liria said.

The David Lawrence Centers has a Mental Health First Aid training for the adult module on June 24th. To register, click here.

It has a Mental Health First Aid training for their youth module on July 29th. To register, click here.

The training is virtual and costs $23.95. The first two hours are self-paced, then the rest is done in a group setting with an instructor. It's done quarterly.

You can also schedule a group training for your business or organization. For more information, email