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2/ Winter 2014 Undressing Stigma Mental Health First Aid One in four Americans will experience some kind of mental illness in their lifetime. Many people suffer in silence, often from more than one mental disorder at a time. Although mental disorders can be managed and recovery is possible, society often relates mental illnesses to violence and danger and believes that people with mental illness cannot live normal lives. For many, this social stigma poses a barrier to recovery. Nine out of ten people with mental health problems report that stigma and discrimination negatively affect their lives. Stigma discourages people from seeking help and often worsens mental health disorders. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 40 percent of adults with mental illness get treatment each year. Raising the public's awareness about mental health disorders is one way to not only address the stigma, but to also encourage others to seek help. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a public education program, can be used to reduce stigma by helping communities understand mental illness and how to intervene. MHFA is an eight-hour training certification, much like CPR, that teaches participants the skills needed to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Participating in MHFA can change public attitudes toward mental illness, and benefit the community by helping people identify, understand and respond to a mental illness crisis. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports that it is more likely to encounter a person experiencing an emotional crisis than someone having a heart attack. For this reason, MHFA teaches mental health literacy, which includes a basic understanding of the different types of mental health conditions, substance abuse addictions, how these conditions affect a person's daily life and how to help someone in crisis. More specifically, MHFA identifies the warning signs and symptoms of addiction and mental illness necessary to assess a mental health crisis. It also teaches the public about the impact of mental illness. Participants become familiar with area mental health providers, organizations and resources to support intervention efforts. Intervention strategies are taught using a five-part action plan, called A-L-G-E-E: ● Assess for risk of suicide or harm ● Listen without judgment ● Give reassurance and information ● Encourage self-help and other support strategies ● Encourage appropriate professional help During the course, participants use role-play to apply the action plan to a variety of potential situations such as helping someone who is experiencing a panic attack, suicidal behaviors, hallucinations, delusions, overdose or a traumatic event. Courses are available to anyone 16 years of age and older. The youth MHFA program emphasizes early intervention among 12- to 18-year-olds with mental health challenges. To learn more, visit Hollis Schnieders Staff Writer Jennifer Foster Freelance Writer Marjorie Langas Graphic Support Randy Leiker IT Support Tempest Wright Teen Health Writer Photography Tonia Wright Publisher, Editor-in-Chief We want to hear from you! Let us know how we are doing on Facebook, Twitter @accessHealth1 or write: accessHealth News c/o Grace Advertising 325 Broadway Lexington, MO 64067 accessHealth is published by Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. 325 Broadway Lexington, MO 64067 is the online arm of this print publication. A special thank you to HCF for underwriting the following ads: Lafayette County Prevention Coaltion (LCPC) Odessa Access to Primary Care Program (APCP) ACA Marketplace Enrollment Live Well Community Health Center - Waverly By Hollis Schnieders Youth Mental Health First Aid Public Course Tuesday, April 8 th 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at HCC of Rural Missouri Lunch is provided. Register: 660.563.0607 or

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