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Part III Suicide Prevention Workshop

By Patsy Stoddard
Alice Wadley

Part III of suicide prevention discusses the mental health crisis. Good mental health is paramount in suicide prevention.
When you think of first aid you often think of kit you have in your vehicle ready for use during a medical emergency. When you render first aid you can usually do a visual assessment of the person and determine what their immediate medical needs are. One part of first aid that is often neglected is mental health first aid. There isn’t a conveniently packaged kit readily available for a mental health crisis. There is now a tool available for mental health situations. It’s called mental health first aid. It was developed in 2001. Mental health first aid takes the fear out of starting a conversation about mental health and substance abuse problems. It improves understanding by providing an action plan to follow.  
 A mental health first aid class was held at the Castleview hospital. Many from Emery and Carbon counties attended the training taught by Tara Wilder and Ammon Sorenson. One of the purposes of the class is to inform the public and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health problems are common in society. Many people are not informed about mental health problems. Professional help may not always be immediately available. In Emery County there are only two mental health professionals for the entire county. Community members can help. People often do not know how to respond. People with mental health disorders often do not seek help. Mental health first aid is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.  
There are different ways to define mental health. The World Health Organization defines mental health as: Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
A Mental health disorder or mental illness is a diagnosible illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state and behavior and disrupts the person’s ability to work or carry out other daily activities and engage in satisfying personal relationships. There are several different types of mental illnesses. Some are common, such as depressions and anxiety. There are also lesser known illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
A mental health problem is a broader term that includes both mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders that may not be severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of a mental health disorder.
Mental disorders are common in the United States, approximately one in five adults have a mental disorder in one year. A national survey of Americans found 18.5 percent of adults experienced a mental illness in any one year. The equivalent of 43.8 million people. Mental health disorders often occur in combination. It is not unusual for a person with anxiety to develop depression or a who is depressed to have a substance abuse disorder.
Mental health disorders often start in adolescence. A national survey reported, half of all mental health disorders began by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. When mental disorders start at a young age they can affect the persons education, movement into adult occupational roles, forming of social relationships and lead to an establishment of alcohol or drug use.
 Mental health disorders can cause disabilities across a persons life. It is important to detect problems early to ensure the person gets the proper treatment and support. Medical professionals rate mental health disorders among the most disabling illnesses.
The illness can lead to premature death. Mental health disorders can cause disruptions in the persons ability to work, care for themselves and carry on relationships. Since mental health disorders are not seen the person can be judged as being weak, lazy, uncooperative or not really ill. The lack of understanding contributes to the negative stigma of those with mental health disorders.
There is a wide variety of interventions for preventing mental health problems and helping people with mental disorders. Prevention programs are available to everyone. These programs can include public service announcements to reduce the stigma of mental disorders, drug education treatment in schools, resilience training, stress management courses and parenting skills classes.
Early intervention is designed for people with mental health problems and those who are developing mental disorders. The purpose is to prevent problems from becoming serious and reduce the likelihood of secondary effect such as loss of job, school drop outs, relationship problems and drug and alcohol problems. The longer a person goes without treatment the more difficult it may be to recover. It is important to get support from family, friends and coworkers during this time. People are more likely to get treatment if someone close to them suggests it.
There are many different types of treatment and support. There is no one given treatment that will help everyone. The range of people who can help a person with a mental health disorder includes primary care physicians, mental health professionals, psychiatrists, peer support specialists and friends and family. Medical treatments can include prescribed medication and other treatments given by a physician. Psychological treatments usually include talking to a mental health professional or sometimes in a group to address issues to promote personal growth and coping skills.
Peer support groups bring people together who share common problems.

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