Mental Health First Aid to be Offered by SalusCare

Do you know the warning signs of mental illness or substance abuse? If someone in your family or someone you know experiences depression or withdrawal from enjoyable activities, would you know what to do?

Mental Health First Aid, a nationally recognized program, is designed to help parents, friends and neighbors identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse before a crisis occurs.

Two classes – one focusing on adults and one focusing on youth – will be offered by SalusCare, Inc., the largest, most comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program in Southwest Florida.

The eight-hour class focusing on adults will be offered over two days, Tuesday, Dec. 1, and Wednesday, Dec. 2. A second class focusing on youth will be offered Thursday, Jan. 7, and Friday, Jan. 8. All classes will be offered at SalusCare’s Evans Avenue Campus at 3763 Evans Avenue from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The class costs $25, including all training materials.

Registration is available at www.saluscareflorida.org by printing and completing the form and mailing to SalusCare, Attn: MH First Aid, 3763 Evans Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901.

Approximately 25 percent of adults and 20 percent of youth, ages 13 to 18, will suffer from a mental illness this year, making mental disorders more common than heart disease and cancer combined as the leading causes of death, according to SalusCare officials.

Mental Health First Aid is managed and operated by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and is endorsed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All classes are taught by Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors.

“Just as CPR training helps a layperson with no clinical training, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. The goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives,” said Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor Laura Youngfleisch, who is clinical manager of children’s outreach mental health services at SalusCare, Inc.

Participants will learn a simple five-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual, and identifying appropriate help and other supports.

The training is ideal for parents, teachers, leaders of faith communities, human resources professionals and caring citizens. Each class is limited to 25 participants.

“People who have taken the course tell us they have a better understanding of mental health signs and symptoms and how to apply what they have learned in an everyday setting. One participant said, ‘learning what to do and how to help was an invaluable experience,’” Youngfleisch said.

Mental Health First Aid is can be tailored for specific groups such as schools, child care centers, businesses, senior living facilities, and healthcare organizations. Sessions can be scheduled at a location of their choice at a time that is convenient for them.

For more information, contact Youngfleisch at 239-791-1536 or email her at LYoungfleisch@SalusCareFlorida.org .

About SalusCare, Inc.

SalusCare, Inc., is the largest, most comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program in Southwest Florida, serving 17,000 people per year of all ages from seven locations in Lee County. The non-profit organization offers crisis stabilization, outpatient and residential treatment as well as prevention programming and an Employee Assistance Program for about 50 area companies. The majority of programs are accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

SalusCare services are not free. Fees are charged on a sliding scale, based on family income. In many cases, private insurance is accepted. SalusCare is a United Way partner agency.

For more information, call 239-275-3222 or visit www.SalusCareFlorida.org.

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