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Free Mental Health First Aid Course Offered for Mental Illness Awareness Week

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: October 09, 2019 07:54 PM

October 6-12 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and Northland Healthy Minds planned several events throughout the week designed to educate people and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

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"There's such a stigma about mental illness that this class attempts to get people to know it's just like having a heart attack [or] having diabetes. The important thing is knowing what to do in those situations and with those conditions," said Patricia Michals, the certified instructor for the Mental Health First Aid course. 

The community events are catered to both children and adults, including classes, trainings and story telling. 

Beginning Wednesday, at One Roof in Duluth, Northland Healthy Minds held a two-day Mental Health First Aid course. The course is meant to teach participants how to deal with a mental health crisis.

The training is for anyone who wants to make their community happier, healthier and safer for all.

"We think equipping community members to be able to respond to people in crisis, and to help their loved ones that are dealing with mental health issues, is a good way to create a caring community and make the community safer for everybody," said LaReesa Sandretsky, the Coordinator for Northland Healthy Minds. 

During the training, a five-step action plan called ALGEE was taught. ALGEE stands for Assess risk of suicide or harm, Listen nonjudgementally, Give reassurance and information, Encourage appropriate professional help and Encourage self-help and other support strategies. 

"It's really like five steps of what you can do if someone you know is struggling. So depending if they're in crisis or if you're just kind of seeing early signs of them struggling, [it's] just what steps you can take to help them wherever they are," said Sandretsky.

The training is valued at $170, but thanks to Northland Healthy Minds, it is being offered free of charge. Participants in the course will receive a certificate after attending both days of training. Day two is Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at One Roof. 

This is the first year the training is being offered. It was made possible thanks to a grant awarded in June 2019. The grant was awarded to Northland Healthy Minds, St. Luke's and Essentia, proving them with funding to train people to teach this Mental Health First Aid Course. Along with representatives from Northland Healthy Minds, the course was also taught by licensed medical professionals. 

Northland Healthy Minds is a collaborative of approximately 50 businesses, organizations and people across Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Some committee members include the City of Duluth, St. Luke's, Essentia Health and others. 

If you or a loved one are in need of mental health resources, click here for a list on Northland Healthy Minds' website.  Or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI. 

WDIO is partnering with local organizations to identify issues and to coordinate our community response. We can accomplish great things when we come together as a community. To learn more about *organization, visit WDIO Creating Change. Be part of the solution.

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Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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