Training Offers ‘First Aid’ for Mental Health

NEWARK – More than 30 people from various organizations gathered at the Licking County Library Monday to learn more about youth mental health first aid. 

Hosted by Mental Health America of Licking County, the training was organized after local MHA staff learned suicide has become the leading cause of death for Ohio children between the ages of 10 and 14.

While at the training, participants worked through the mental health first aid action plan, learned how to respond in different situations when working on various scenarios, and more.

The training was attended by about a half a dozen people more than the normal capacity for the program, according to MHA of Licking County Director Penny Sitler.

“It’s obviously something people saw the need for,” Sitler said.

Penny Sitler, director of Mental Health America of Licking County, talks about giving good information as opposed to advice during a mental health first aid training on Monday at the Main Branch of the Licking County Library. The training was organized after local MHA staff learned suicide has become the leading cause of death for Ohio children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Penny Sitler, director of Mental Health America of Licking County, talks about giving good information as opposed to advice during a mental health first aid training on Monday at the Main Branch of the Licking County Library. The training was organized after local MHA staff learned suicide has become the leading cause of death for Ohio children between the ages of 10 and 14. (Photo: Sara C. Tobias/The Advocate)

During a break in training, Heath High School teacher Lindsey Clawson said she signed up for the session because one of her professional goals has been to increase her awareness of mental health in children.

What she learned at the training, she indicated, has reinforced some of what she’s already doing.

“It’s made me feel good that I’m doing as best of a job as I can when you consider how I’m limited in I see these kids for 50 minutes a day,” she said. “I used to think there’s so much more I should be doing or can be doing and there is, but for the most part what I’m getting from this is I’m being super vigilant, I’m having conversations … and that makes me feel like I’m doing what I can.”

When she returns to the classroom for the upcoming school year, Clawson said, she plans to be more up front with what she notices or sees among her students.

Krlli Hopkins, a nurse with the Licking County Health Department, takes a break to practice a breathing focused calming technique discussed during a mental health first aid training hosted by Mental Health America of Licking County on Monday at the Main Branch of the Licking County Library. The training was organized after local MHA staff learned suicide has become the leading cause of death for Ohio children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Krlli Hopkins, a nurse with the Licking County Health Department, takes a break to practice a breathing focused calming technique discussed during a mental health first aid training hosted by Mental Health America of Licking County on Monday at the Main Branch of the Licking County Library. The training was organized after local MHA staff learned suicide has become the leading cause of death for Ohio children between the ages of 10 and 14. (Photo: Sara C. Tobias/The Advocate)

Kelli Hopkins, school nurse for Blessed Sacrament and a nurse for children with medical handicaps, said she learned that when talking with kids, she should really listen rather than try to offer advice.

In her role with children, Hopkins said, training sessions like the one she attended Monday are important because the families she works with are working with children with special needs and have a lot going on in their lives.

She encouraged anyone who works with children or families to seize any opportunity to take a mental health class or training to be more aware of mental illness and suicide risk in children.

Denny Wood, a maintenance worker for Beacon 360 Management, said he signed up for the class to better understand mental health issues in the older individuals he works with. Wood said he got a better idea of how to recognize depression and panicking.

Sitler said she hopes people will be there for the people in their lives who exhibit signs and symptoms of mental health issues.Get the News Alerts newsletter in your inbox.

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“I want people to be able to be there for people in their lives who exhibit signs and symptoms and know ‘Oh, I remember now what I’m supposed to do. I remember from that class what steps I should take to help this person,’ so that people don’t bury their heads in the sand,” she said. “So that they will seek help. Mental health issues are very treatable.”

Signs of suicide

  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Pulling away from friends or family
  • Past suicide attempts
  • Extremely self-hating thoughts
  • Feeling like they don’t belong
  • Hopelessness, helplessness
  • Rage
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Feeling that they are a burden to others
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Giving up on themselves
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts, plan, action
  • Sudden mood changes for the better

Resources

  • 2-1-1
  • 1-800-273-TALK
  • 9-1-1
  • Crisis text line: Text 4hope to 741741
  • Mental Health America of Licking County at mhalc.org
  • Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation at ohiospf.org
  • The American Association of Suicidology at suicidology.org

Published Aug. 13, 2019 in the Newark Advocate

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