Become a first-responder

netcCHERAW, S.C. — Northeastern Technical College (NETC) has joined with Northeastern Rural Health Network to provide Mental Health First Aid training on Friday, April 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at NETC’s Cheraw campus.

The eight-hour training is designed to provide the key skills needed to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, whether it’s in the workplace, the community or even at home.  The program, offered through NETC’s Department of Continuing Education, costs $120 and includes all training materials.  The program also provides 0.8 Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) upon completion of the program.

Similar to First Aid or CPR training, Mental Health First Aid is a certification course that teaches a five-step action plan to assess a situation, select and implement interventions and secure appropriate care for the individual in crisis.  The program also introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of the impact of mental illness, overviews common treatments, and addresses the stigma associated with mental illness, explaining how stigma can many times be a roadblock for someone who needs professional care.

“Often times, we can be quick to judge or make assumptions about another’s life based on our own perceptions, but when a subject like addiction, depression or mental illness is mentioned, there tends to be a feeling of uncertainty on how to address it,” explained MHFA Instructor Brenda Petrucelli.  “Do we ignore the symptoms, give in to our own fears, or make judgment calls based on emotions?  Sadly, if we’re honest we can sometimes be guilty of all the above, which could leave someone in crisis and potentially lead to a situation that was avoidable.”

“MHFA teaches participants about various mental health conditions, so that the community as a whole can be healthier by working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness,” Petrucelli continued.  “This is not a clinical program that takes years to learn and put into practice, it’s eight hours of information that encompasses everyday situations to make you aware of your surroundings, while providing participants with information and tools that can potentially save lives.”

With recent studies showing that one in five Americans suffers from some form of mental health illness, MHFA training can be a valuable tool for so many.  Additionally, even though this statistic encompasses various degrees of mental illness, from depression and anxiety to psychosis, many people who suffer will go undiagnosed, which could potentially be a problem in the community.

“This training program can be an essential tool for so many in our community by educating them on the signs and symptoms to be cognizant of and what they can do in a crisis,” said NETC Program Manager, Tammy Morrell.  “Anyone can become a mental health first responder and provide assistance until the individual can get professional help, but the first step is to have a plan of action.”

Morrell also said that while there are distinct groups of professionals who could benefit from the program, like police officers, emergency medical professionals, educators, and clergy — that all people working in areas of the public, from food service to those working in local industry, would find the training of value.
For more information about the program or to register for the April 17th training, contact Tammy Morrell in the  Continuing Education Department of NETC at 843-921-6924.

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