NyE Communities Coalition offering mental health first-aid training


In the event of a serious medical emergency, a timely first-aid response for the patient is crucial.

The same is true for individuals suffering from a mental health crisis, where first aid is given until appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis is resolved, according to Staci Smith, executive director of NyE Communities Coalition.

The coalition will soon be offering mental health first-aid classes for individuals interested in learning how to deal with such an event.

“Mental health first aid is the help offered to a person experiencing a mental health challenge, mental disorder, or a mental health crisis,” she said. “During the class, participants will learn the mental health action plan, which consists of five steps.”

The mental health action plan consists of assessing the risk of suicide or harm, the ability to listen in a non-judgmental manner and give reassurance to the patient.

Additional steps include encouraging appropriate, professional help, as well as encouraging self-help and other support methods.

Kim Johnson, the Coalition Prevention and Wellness Director, said many people often do not know how to respond, while those with mental health problems often do not seek help for themselves.

Johnson is facilitating the class.

“Mental health first aid is helpful for a variety of reasons,” he said. “Many people are not well informed about mental health problems. The sooner an individual gets help, the more likely they are to have a positive outcome, when professional help is not always on hand.”

At present, there are two versions of mental health first-aid courses available.

Johnson said the youth mental health first-aid course is offered to individuals who interact with youth between the ages of 12 and 18, while the adult mental health first-aid course is offered to individuals who interact with adults.

“Those are the two areas where we’ve got several staff members that are trained to train other people,” he said. “If you look back over the 60’s and 70’s, there wasn’t a lot of people who were trained in basic first aid, where if somebody has a heart attack or is choking, we know what to do because we have all been trained and it’s been ingrained in us. This is the same concept, except we’re dealing with the mental health aspect.”

Johnson also said if a person is in a crisis situation and having a mental health episode, the class basically teaches how to recognize a mental health crisis.

The class is generally designed for novices to recognize that there may be a mental health issue where they can offer an appropriate response.

“This is an eight-hour class and sometimes myself and the other trainers will split it into two four-hour sessions,” he said. “It is required that they come to the entire session because it’s not something that you can just get part of it.”

After several previous classes, Johnson said the soon-to-be-announced youth class will be open to anyone over the age of 18 who wishes to participate.

Those as young as 16 or 17, must have parental permission.

“I would tell anyone who is interacting with the public on a regular basis that it’s a good skill to have,” he said. “The previous training went great and we’ve been able to help them with the training. The training is very interactive and at times it is fun. It is also very engaging where we teach a serious subject and how to learn from it.”

Once the attendees complete the required eight hours, they earn a certificate of completion after a pre-and-post test from the class.

“This is something you should be able to pass with no problem if you attended the entire class,” Johnson said. “If you go to Las Vegas, it’s around $200, but because of our grant, we are able to offer it free of charge.”

As such, Johnson noted that those interested in taking part should reserve a spot for the soon-to-be-scheduled class.

“Because we have to order all of the books and materials, we do ask people RSVP and let us know they are coming to attend the class,” he said. “Typically, we do the classes right here at the coalition campus, however, if there is a large organization who wanted us to come to them, we can also do that. We have trained law enforcement and school district people, but this particular class is open to anyone.”

To reserve a seat or to learn more information, contact Johnson at 775-727-9970, extension 214.

The coalition is located at 1020 East Wilson Road.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes