Class educates public on how to recognize mental health problems - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Class educates public on how to recognize mental health problems

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A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says one in five Americans suffer from a mental health illness, and one local entity is trying to educate the public.

Adams County Mental Health Partnership runs an 8-hour Youth Mental Health First Aid class that's open to anyone in the community. Class participants learn how to recognize possible signs of a problem and how to get help.  Instructors focus on ages 8 to 25, but say the lesson can apply to anyone.  Project Manager Cindy Vahle says the class also covers common mental health issues.

"We don't want anyone to feel like we are putting pressure on them to diagnose," Vahle said. "We want them to understand though that there is some difference between typical development of young people and some of the signs and symptoms they might see, where those symptoms are and when they are concerning."

Vahle says because so few people get professional help, it's vital that community members are able to identify signs and intervene early.

Mental Health Coordinator Sharon Bearden, who also works in the Quincy Public Schools, says learning the signs of mental health can help in everyday situations.

"If I recognize that someone I know pretty well is not quite himself or herself and I'm recognizing there might be some distress going on, then I will be learning ways to approach the conversation," Bearden said.

Bearden says people in the class also learn about the steps to take in a crisis situation, known as ALGEE.  The plan was created in Australia with steps meaning:

A-for assess

L-for listen

G-for give reassurance

E-for encourage appropriate professional help

E-for encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Vahle says another class is coming soon and to get more information, contact Cindy Vahle at 217-223-0423 extension 394.
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