In any given year, approximately 18.5% of the population will suffer from a mental disorder. The Mental Health First Aid program was founded in Australia in 2001 by Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education, and mental health literacy professor named Tony Jorm. They recognized that a class was needed to help the public recognize mental health issues and wanted to create a way for their community to provide resources for those affected by mental health issues. The classes are not designed for lay people to diagnose or treat mental disorders, but to recognize the signs and symptoms of metal disorders and provide resources so that person can get the professional help they need. The program’s quick success has enabled it to quickly spread throughout the world and is now offered in over 20 countries.
I found out about the class through the Fayetteville Chamber’s healthcare committee, the Whole Body Project. Ozark Guidance is our local sponsor for the Mental Health First Aid classes, and they are one of scores of organizations charged with helping certify one million people in Mental Health Fist Aid in the United States. The “Be One in a Million” campaign is well underway, and there are classes available in Northwest Arkansas over the next several months.
I arrived at the 8 hour class at 8 am at the Washington County Health Unit in Fayetteville. David Duerr with Ozark Guidance was our instructor and has been teaching the course for several years. His hands-on approach made the day go by quickly. The course is broken into several topics, including Depression & Anxiety, Suicide Risk, Panic Attacks, Psychosis, and Substance Abuse. We interacted with each other through role playing, group activities, and personal stories. It was an emotionally charged day… but I would recommend it to anyone. I walked out of the class confident that I would be able to recognize a person in need of help with a mental health issue, and not walk away because I am no longer uninformed.
For more information, visit the Ozark Guidance by calling 479-750-2020 or visit their website at www.ozarkguidance.org/mhfa. To register for a class, email Nancy Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. This summer’s upcoming classes will be held in Rogers, Siloam Springs, and Fayetteville.
The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is proud to present our “Chamber Champions” series. In 2016, our Chamber team will be volunteering over 350 hours at local non-profits throughout Northwest Arkansas. We are proud to support our non-profits and hope our efforts will inspire our Chamber members to reach out in our community and volunteer.