Gov. Rick Snyder declared May 18 to May 24 as “Michigan Mental Health First Aid Week,” said Ed Kiefer, a senior training consultant with the Center for Positive Living Supports on the campus of Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc., in Clinton Township.
The training was funded by a state grant to Treatment Innovations of Troy. It will be conducted by the Center for Positive Living from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, at MORC’s Auburn Hills satellite office at 1270 Doris Ave.“Mental health first aid is the help offered a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Kiefer. The first aid is given until appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis is resolved.
One-in-five Americans develop a mental disorder in any one year, according to the USA Mental Health First Aid agency.The most prevalent disorder is anxiety, followed by substance abuse and depression, the agency says.
“We want to increase literacy and understanding of mental health problems and illness,” said Kiefer, a MORC trainer first aid program. “We are conduits to care” in that those trained in the field can guide someone to the proper physicians or treatment programs.Those with mental illness, who often unnecessarily suffer stigma in society, “could be someone very close to you,” said Kiefer.
Latest data from The National Institutes of Health showed there were 38,364 people who lost their lives to suicide in a single year.
“If someone has a major mental health problem, people don’t know how to respond to help that person,” said Kiefer, who also uses the Culture of Gentleness philosophy in which a caregiver or health worker tries to create a bond of trust and love with the patient.“Someone can be overtly taking care of things in his or her life and seemingly doing well but there are signs we should be aware of that they may be having mental health issues,” he said. These include isolating oneself, not interacting with friends, showing a general lack of interest and letting his or her appearance deteriorate.
“We have to try and show that person ‘we are there for you and not judging you,’” he said. “And we have to let them say whatever they want and know it’ll be OK.”The Michigan Mental Health First Aid Week will be supported with radio spots and a phone bank for people to call, according to Snyder’s office. The statewide goal is to train 1,500 people.
Box: To register for training, visit https://www.positivelivingsupport.org/training/register
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.