Healthy Living: Mental health first aid

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If you have ever had CPR training then you know how beneficial it is to have those skills. It’s a matter of life or death, but what about mental health training? It’s out there -- in fact, you can take classes right here in Washington at no cost at all.

At a time when there is heightened focus around mental health why not consider arming yourself with some real, life-saving skills?

Not only can you help yourself during times of crisis but you can also provide support to your family, friends, and even colleagues for free.

Do what brings you joy. That's the message from Fayth Dickenson, a Behavioral Health Program Manager for Regence.

For anyone experiencing declining mental health, she says to fill your time with things that bring on happiness or fulfillment whether that's reading, running, exploring, or spending time with loved ones.

"We all have days where we feel sad or we’re down," said Dickenson. "But when those days are more or longer and those feelings are persisting and it affects your family, your work, your social life then it might be time to seek help from a professional."

Dickenson says education is also part of the process. Mental health First Aid is often an untapped resource for people to better understand what you - or a loved one - might be going through.

But what is mental health first aid?

"It’s a nationally recognized curriculum that helps us reduce the stigma around mental health, helps us support our community and in some cases it even prevents suicide," she said.

Dickenson is a certified trainer in mental health first aid and says there are courses all over Washington, that anyone can take.

"We know that youth are bearing the brunt of mental health first aid crisis that started way before covid 19 so there is a youth version, a teen version to help teens learn how to help each other," she said.

Adults and employers are encouraged to sign up since mental health plays a huge role in performance and productivity at work.

Much like a CPR class, you'll learn potentially life-saving skills like how to start the conversation about mental health, how to notice signs and symptoms that someone may need help and what to do when the situation becomes dire.

Many of these first aid classes are free. To find a class near you, go to mentalhealthfirstaid.org

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