USU starting new mental health first aid workshop

LOGAN – A different type of first aid course will be taking place at Utah State University this Saturday.

Instead of learning to treat cuts and burns, those who attend the all-day workshop will learn to give mental health first aid. According to Derrik Tollefson, director of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology at USU, this is the first time a workshop of this type has been offered in Cache County. He said it will give participants “basic training and knowledge around mental health and how they can be helpful to people who may have mental health challenges.”

“The analogy to first aid training is appropriate,” he said, “because just like folks would go to a first aid training to learn how to respond to basic injuries such as shock or a broken leg or those kind of things, mental health first aid training is about teaching recognition and then some simple steps of what a person can do to be helpful.”

The workshops are open to the public, but registration has already filled. Tollefson said more will be offered in the near future. He said most attendees at this first workshop are either affiliated with USU or other organizations around Cache County.

“Our intent with this first round of workshops was to invite a broad section of agency leadership and employees to come experience these and get the word out to their organizations about how useful they thought their experience was,” he said. “It is our intention after this to bring additional mental health first aid workshops to campus and the community and actually identify more of an ongoing system that could be taken place.”

Tollefson’s hope is that the attendees will be more confident in what they can do to be helpful to someone struggling.

“A lot of people think, ‘Mental health, that’s the realm of professionals and I can’t do anything in that realm,’” he said. “Certainly we want people to access professional help, but when its necessary people can do more than they think in terms of how they talk about mental health and how they respond to people with mental health challenges. There are certain things people can do that turn out to be quite helpful.”

Future workshops will be listed on the <a href=”http://mhfirstaidusu.org/” target=”_blank”>USU Mental Health website</a> as they are scheduled.

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