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Mental Health First Aid

Someone you know could be experiencing a mental illness or crisis.  You can help them!

College and university students have unique stress and risk factors related to the demands of school and balancing academic, social and employment responsibilities while being independent and away from family, friends and other supports, often for the first time. Today, 40 percent of young adults, ages 18-24, are enrolled in a two- or four-year education institution. Statistics show that 75 percent of mental illnesses develop before age 25, making colleges ideal locations for early identification. However, the number one reason students say they do not use mental health resources is the lack of knowledge that those resources even exist.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a training – like regular First Aid or CPR – designed to give people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of specific illnesses.

Mental Health First Aid is a free eight-hour course taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors at North Idaho College. The course is taught to students, staff and faculty several times per year, and early registration is recommended since classes fill up quickly. 

The next available Mental Health First Aid course is scheduled for: TBD.

The Mental Health First Aid course is designed with the unique culture and resources of colleges and universities in mind. Training students, faculty and others in higher education settings how to recognize the symptoms of emerging mental illnesses or to assist young adults in a mental health crisis can help lessen the severity and impact of mental illnesses.

Mental Health First Aid teaches participants a five-step action plan ("ALGEE") to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
  • Listen non-judgmentally.
  • Give reassurance and information.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

This course includes:

  • A discussion of campus culture and its relevance to the topic of mental health
  • A discussion of the specific stress and risk factors faced by the higher education population.
  • Applying the "ALGEE" Action Plan in several scenarios designed specifically for faculty, staff and students.

A review of the mental health resources available on campus and through partnerships in the community.

Mental Health First Aid helps people know that mental illnesses and addictions are real, common and treatable and that it's OK to seek help. Research demonstrates this program's effectiveness in improving knowledge of mental illnesses and substance use, removing fear and misunderstanding and enabling those trained to offer concrete assistance. Individuals trained in Mental Health First Aid can help:

  • Raise awareness and encourage understanding of the ways in which one's cultural background can impact the discrimination associated with mental illness.
  • Reach out to those who suffer in silence and who are reluctant to seek help.
  • Let students know that support is available on campus and in the community.
  • Provide information on self-help strategies and on campus and community resources.
  • Make mental health care and treatment accessible to those in need.

The program is listed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidenced-Based Programs and Practices. Mental Health First Aid is a low-cost, high-impact program that generates tremendous community awareness and support. Since 2008, 300,000 people have been trained in Mental Health First Aid through a network of more than 6,000 certified instructors.

Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education is ideal for anyone who regularly interacts with students, both on and off campus, including:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Resident Advisors
  • Campus Clergy
  • Campus Law Enforcement
  • Academic Advisors
  • Counselors
  • Financial Aid Staff
  • Coaches and Athletic Personnel
  • Administrators
  • Event Staff
  • Librarians