May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is offering a free Mental Health First Aid, MHFA, online course on May 19.

The virtual training will be held from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The class is open to any Texan who works with individuals at high risk for a mental crisis.

Participants must preregister with Rachel Brauner, AgriLife Extension military programs and family and community health specialist, Bryan-College Station, 979-321-5021 or [email protected].

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 one suicide death occurred every 11 hours, making suicide, as well as suicide attempts, serious public health challenges for Americans.

“The Mental Health First Aid class teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness,” said Brauner. “This training highlights the skills needed to provide initial support to someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and help connect them to the appropriate care.”

Mental Health First Aid topics

Brauner said the May 19 course will teach the “ALGEE” action plan which is:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
  • Listen nonjudgmentally.
  • Give reassurance and information.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Mental health and drug trends training opportunities

In addition to Mental Health First Aid, online classes are available, including Drug Trends training. The upcoming dates for the classes are June 22-23, July 13-14 and Aug. 10-11.

Prior to the two-day training, participants will need to complete a two-hour, self-paced online class. Participants may register with Brauner for the self-paced class and the two-day trainings.

All two-day trainings will cover mental health from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on day one and drug trends from 9-10:30 a.m. on the second day.

The Drug Trends training will teach participants how to identify substance use and identify the resources available to help someone with a substance-use disorder, Brauner said.

Participants will receive a complementary MHFA Manual and Participant Processing Guide. Those who complete a two-day training will also receive a Narcan Kit and certificate of completion that is good for three years.

Topics covered during two-day trainings will include:

  • Common signs and symptoms of mental illness.
  • Common signs and symptoms of substance use.
  • How to interact with a person in crisis.
  • How to connect the person with help.
  • Expanded content on trauma, addiction and self-care.
  • Susan Himes
    Susan Himes is a writer and media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She writes news releases and features from science-based information generated by the agency. She also covers human interest stories and events across the state.
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