Local instructors offering classes in Mental Health First Aid

Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. lives with some form of mental illness. Few people realize that 64% of youth with major depression never receive treatment. Every day in the U.S., 123 people (including 22 military veterans) die by suicide.

The number of people affected by mental health concerns is growing at a staggering rate, and most people feel helpless to do anything about it.

An opportunity to help those with mental health issues has come to the Kaufman and Van Zandt county areas in the form of a class called Mental Health First Aid.

The basic idea of medical first aid and CPR is to be available to help someone in an emergency. Participants don’t have to be a doctor help, they just do the best they can until professional help arrives.

Along those same lines, Mental Health First Aid teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders. This eight-hour training gives participants the skills needed to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance abuse problem, and help connect them to the appropriate care.

Who should take Mental Health First Aid? Faith leaders, educators, first fesponders, companies, hospital staff, community leaders and caring individuals. Basically, anyone who wants to be a part of the solution regarding mental health in their community. In fact, there’s a separate course for adults who work with youth as well as specific modules for people who work with higher education, fire and emergency services, law enforcement and corrections, veterans and their families, older adults and rural communities, so the real answer is, “Who shouldn’t take Mental Health First Aid?”

Four area leaders recently received the instructor training and are available as individuals or teams of two to teach a course tailor-made for the participants. Those interested in training should contact one of these instructors or learn more online at www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org.

Local instructors for Mental Health First Aid

Judy Phariss Collins

Chaplain and manager of Pastoral Care; Texas Health Hospital-Kaufman.

Judy is a board-certified chaplain with years of experience serving people in crisis and teaching others to do the same. She is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid to adults. Contact Judy at judycollins@texashealth.org or (214) 208-1324.

Jim McKee

Executive director of crisis response ministry; Tyler and Dallas.

Jim is a former paramedic and police officer who also serves as a Reserve Deputy with Smith County as a Mental Health Peace Officer. He is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid to adults who work with youth. Contact Jim at jmckee@crmtx.org or (903) 880-6125.

Rev. Jason R. Pointer

Director of pastoral care and counseling; Terrell State Psychiatric Hospital.

Jason is trained in Crisis Response and De-escalation Techniques, and was recently selected to present a TED Talk on Destigmatizing Mental Illness. He is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid to adults. Contact Jason at jason.pointer@hhsc.state.tx.us or (903) 590-7300. There are currently a few spots available in Jason’s class on Saturday, Feb. 22 in Terrell.

Katie M. Sotzing

Family & Community Health Educator; Kaufman County Extension Service

As an Extension Agent for Texas A&M AgriLife – Kaufman County, Katie is a master educator with years of experience in teaching, coaching and mentoring roles. She is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid to adults and to adults who work with youth. Contact Katie at kmphillips@ag.tamu.edu or (903) 654-3887.

Each instructor is an independent contractor and is not employed by Mental Health First Aid USA or National Council for Behavioral Health.

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