Mental Health First Aid training hosted today in Dallas

A second round of classes in Mental Health First Aid training continued today for 20-plus attendees at the offices of the Community Council of Greater Dallas. Hosted by the Community Council and the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority, the classes are the first to take place in the community.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Evidence behind the program demonstrates it builds mental health literacy while helping the public identify and respond to signs of mental illness.

The first classes were held November 14 and will continue at the Community Council on December 6 and 12.

“Just as CPR training helps a person with no training to assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps a person assist someone experiencing a crisis such as contemplating suicide,” said Dr. Sushma Sharma, the director of public and population health research at the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation. “The goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual and identifying appropriate professional help.”

The DFWHC Foundation received a Community Mental Health Grant in October from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to coordinate Mental Health First Aid Training to 12 rural North Texas counties including Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise counties.

“We are here today to support and to learn from the program,” said Dr. Sharma.

The DFWHC Foundation expects to begin Mental Health First Aid training in 2019, with a goal of training 10,000 lay persons over the next three years.