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Free Mental Health First Aid training available in Indianapolis

Free Mental Health First Aid training in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health officials in Indianapolis are working to give organizations a new kind of mental health toolkit — Mental Health First Aid.

Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges.

Workers at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital say substance abuse is a concern in Indianapolis. That’s why the city is using grant money to train leaders in the community to help.

In the program, participants learn to become better listeners so that a problem does not escalate into a crisis situation.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an average of 130 Americans die each day because of suicide.

“Mental Health First Aid teaches an action plan called ALGE — teaching us to approach somebody by recognizing signs and symptoms and be able to engage in conversation with that person, learning information that you can share as far as resources and encouraging professional help that’s appropriate and encouraging self-help for the person,” Lisa Hoffman, program coordinator, told News 8.

Hoffman says that since the program started earlier this year, at least 500 people earned certification in mental health first aid training. Participants earn continuing education credit for the 8-hour course.

“We have trained at schools, at a lot of churches; we’ve trained at human service organizations anyone engaging with the public, where one might experience people that are just having a mental health challenge that is directly affecting the work that you are doing. We’ve trained bus drivers; we’ve trained hairstylists because we know a lot of times, they are the counselors, so to speak. We’ve trained businesses,” explained Hoffman.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 280 million people in the world have depression and that depression is about 50% more common among women than among men.

First Aid trainees do not learn how to diagnose a mental health challenge or suggest treatment options. Instead, the leaders learn to be good listeners, develop mental awareness, and increase literacy while decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health care.