Mental Health First Aid class begins in Newport

Mental Health First Aid class begins in Newport

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University-Newport will host a Mental Health First Aid class Tuesday and Wednesday on the Newport campus.

The class is interactive and designed to teach important skills in helping someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Students will learn to assess for risk of suicide or harm; listen non-judgmentally; give reassurance and information; encourage appropriate professional help; and encourage self-help and other support strategies.

"They are real illnesses and they can be treated, and that's the most important message," said instructor, David Duerr with Ozark Guidance.

One in four adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is why Duerr said these types of classes are necessary. Mental Health first aid teaches someone how to assist a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

"CPR saves almost 50,000 lives a year and mental health problems are 10 times as common as cardiac problems," he said.

Duerr is the leading instructor of Mental Health First Aid in Arkansas. He said mental health resources are scarce since the federal government shifted the cost and care to local communities.

"That left a huge shortfall in the amount of care so we don't have enough trained providers," he said. "The resources are scant so if you're in a small community like Newport, you might not have a psychiatrist available, you may have to drive a long distance for a psychiatrist.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, serious mental illnesses cost America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalizations in U.S. U.S for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44.

Alma Barber was one of many people in Tuesday's class. She is a legal advocate for the White River Battered Women's Shelter in Newport. 

"Most of our girls, the women we get here have been through a lot of mental anguish," she said. "A lot of times we find ourselves stuck on what to do next."

People who attended the class will learn the signs and symptoms of someone with a mental illness and the risk factors associated with each illness.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.