After months of discourse surrounding mental health at Utah State University, the school will offer free mental health first aid training to Utah community leaders.
Dr. Derrik Tollefson, department head of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology at USU, is an advisor to the graduate students who were involved in the organizion the training.
“Companies, organizations, routinely have their folks go through first aid training," he said. "It just makes sense, so that we can be helpful to somebody who’s in need, and not do things unknowingly that might make their situation worse. It’s the same thing with mental health first aid.”
Tollefson said that this training, and hopefully future trainings, will be a powerful tool in raising awareness and engagement surrounding mental health in Cache Valley and beyond. One reason for this is that the trainings are relatively inexpensive; inexpensive enough, in this case, that different parts of the USU community could come together to provide the training at no cost to those attending.
According to Tollefson, accessible mental health first aid training is an evidence-based way of educating communities about mental health.
Developed in 2001, the program was first used in the United States in 2007. Several studies researching the effects of the training showed improved recognition of symptoms, increased confidence in providing first aid, and decreases in stigma among participants.
“You know, the message of mental health first aid training is we all need first aid from time to time," Tollefson said. "We break ankles, we crash on our mountain bikes. It’s just part of life. You and I are going to need first aid. And it’s the same with mental health. It’s part of life that somewhere along the journey, we’re all going to need mental health support at one level or another. So it’s no different.”
Though the workshops on the 22nd have already been filled, Tollefson said plans are in place to make regular trainings available. He’s also looking for those interested in becoming instructors for future trainings. For more information, click here.