A "First-Aid" Response to Mental Illness

Posted on January 6, 2014

The reality is this: when someone is mentally ill, it can be tough to intervene. "Really, we don't. It's easier to not. It's easier to ignore someone who may be having a crisis," said Kate Parker Riley, who works at the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, and was one of 16 people who came to a seminar on Mental Health First Aid in Waterbury in December. "We've got Band-Aids for physical issues, and now we can have some skills to have for mental health as well," she said.

At the class, students learn how to respond to someone suffering from schizophrenia or what to do if a friend has an anxiety attack. They learn to listen non-judgmentally, assess for suicide risk, and give appropriate referral information. "I would say if someone is living, breathing, and living in the community, they are appropriate to get mental health first aid training," said Janine Sullivan-Wiley, who teaches the class. She said her students are mostly non-medical professionals -- librarians, or folks who work with the elderly. "It's anybody ... because it comes at it from a community-based standpoint not from a trained professional's standpoint," Sullivan-Wiley said.

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Source material from WNPR News