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A First Aid Class in Mental Health?

There is a story over at USA Today about students at Howard University getting a first aid class in mental health.

I thought that there was one part of the story that would be helpful to us because we live in an older community with affordable housing and lots of resources for patients who are suffering from mental health issues.  If anyone needs a first aid course we do!

Here is the takeaway information that I found helpful-

But at the recent class at Howard, Gibb asked the students to consider how they would “respond to someone who is apparently having a discussion with someone who is not there,” a stranger having a panic attack, a friend expressing hopelessness or a client distressed over an illness.

He offered a checklist for dealing with such situations. It goes by the acronym ALGEE and has these steps:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm.

Listen non-judgmentally.

Give reassurance and information.

Encourage appropriate professional help.

Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

The students learned that when someone might be suicidal, it’s best to ask direct questions — and that using the word “suicide” won’t make things worse.

“I had that misconception,” said Amber Stewart, 27. “You want to be sure you are doing the right thing.”

Students also learned to never leave a suicidal person alone and to get that person professional help as soon as possible.

In one exercise, they got a taste of what it’s like to have a real conversation while hearing unreal voices: The students took turns whispering into the ears of chatting classmates. It’s tough to concentrate, the students agreed, when a voice is saying “Don’t trust him” or “Why are you talking to her?”

Those are the sorts of things that someone suffering from auditory hallucinations might endure, Gibb told them.

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