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Mental Health First Aid - a way for all of us to step in and help

I get on the SKIP bus in North Boulder, and very often, there is someone under the shelter at my bus stop or on the bus who seems sad or confused or overwhelmed. In a conversation recently about Boulder’s unhoused population, a friend who works with the community non-profit, Mental Health Partners (MHP), said wisely, “We’ll never meet the needs of all the people in our community facing mental health challenges if it’s left only to the relatively few mental health professionals - everybody has to take some responsibility.” She encouraged me to sign up for a class through MHP that trains community members how to actively lend a hand - Mental Health First Aid.

Just as traditional First Aid offers a plan for addressing physical issues, Mental Health First Aid offers tools to help people suffering mental health or substance use challenges. Just like attending to physical injuries or performing CPR, there are prescribed steps, suggested phrases to use (and to NOT use), and a procedure to follow. And like First Aid, the whole experience is designed to help you feel more confident and less fearful about recognizing signs of distress or crisis and stepping in to offer assistance. The course made me rethink how I approach friends and family members - how I can apply the steps and language to situations in the community but also how to help the people closest to me in a more constructive way.

I’m proud of my certificate (see below!), and I recommend this course to everybody (you can find courses offered everywhere, not just in Boulder County). Whether in the Colorado legislature discussing ways to address mental health issues in our state, or just in my neighborhood, I’m thankful to be better equipped now to help.


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