Mental Health Train Public ‘First Aid’ For Mental Emergencies

By David Cassleman
Credit Courtesy of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health

Mental health providers plan to teach people in northern Michigan a different sort of first aid next week. Not CPR — but a sort of triage for mental health.

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health is teaching a workshop on how to respond to emergencies among adults and children. It’s a crash-course in what they’re calling “first aid skills.”

Cynthia Petersen of Northern Lakes says the class helps both the people who take it and those suffering from mental illness.

“It’s opening doors for people that maybe were afraid to seek help,” Petersen says. “Or family members that didn’t know how to deal with a family member that was maybe facing these challenges.”

Petersen says this training is part of a national initiative that they’ve participated in for the past few years.

Joanie Blamer, Chief Operations Officer for Northern Lakes, says two thirds of people nationwide with mental illnesses go without treatment.

“A lot of that has to do with stigma,” Blamer says. “And it also has to do with them not knowing how to access services or where they can access services, or how they can help a family member.”

The class teaches people to recognize when someone needs immediate help. It also goes over what resources are available to those suffering from mental illness.

The workshop is scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24 and 25, at Northern Lakes’s downtown Traverse City location.