By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Catholic Charities has teamed up with Belhaven University to offer a two day workshop on first aid for mental health. The workshop is set for January 25 and 26 in Natchez.
“Mental health first aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact and overviews common supports. This eight-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care.
The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia,” explained Ann Elizabeth Kaiser, coordinator for health ministries for Catholic Charities.
There will be separate youth and adult tracks for the training and professional continuing education credits are available. The training, according to Kaiser, is a good fit for medical personnel, teachers, counselors and those who work in the faith community.
Matthew S. Stanford is professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University and the author of Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness. He wrote an article about mental disorders for Church Health Reader in 2012. Kaiser references the article when she offers trainings such as these.
“Christians are often surprised to learn that individuals experiencing psychological distress, both believers and nonbelievers, are more likely to seek help from a member of the clergy or ministry staff before any other professional group,” wrote Standford. He said it can be useful for ministers and educators to know basic facts about mental illness. A pastor or lay minister may need to refer someone for professional treatment, but he or she will need to respond in the moment when someone comes for help.
“The fact that individuals living with mental illness are seeking out assistance and counsel from the church should prompt us to rise up and be the hands and feet of Christ to a suffering people,” Stanford continued.
Each course in the mental health first aid training is $30 and inclues lunch. The trainings are both from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and will be held on the Natchez campus of Alcorn State University. The adult training is on January 25 and the youth training is the 26th.
Registration is required. Contact Ann Elizabeth Kaiser to register at (601) 807-1840.
By Maureen Smith