Saturday, June 23, 2018
Health

Course's goal is to help you help someone with a mental illness

If someone suddenly collapsed and appeared to be having a heart attack, you wouldn't just walk on by, right? You'd at least call 911. You'd likely stay with the person while the ambulance was coming. And if you were trained, you might even start CPR. Chances are that human decency would motivate you to do something.

So why is it that when we see obvious signs of mental or emotional crisis in a friend, colleague or even a casual acquaintance, our first reaction is to withdraw? We typically consider behavioral health issues too personal for our intervention, out of bounds for anyone but a family member or a very close friend.

That pretty much defines the challenge facing the National Council for Behavioral Health, which trains people in its Mental Health First Aid course. The goal of the eight-hour session is to help people recognize when someone is suffering from a mental health or substance abuse disorder and to encourage intervention.

"The truth of the matter is that you are more likely to encounter someone who is experiencing a behavioral health condition or crisis" than someone facing a physical emergency, said Laira Roth, the council's project manager for the first aid course. Every year, the organization notes, one in four Americans will suffer from mental illness or addiction.

Half a million people across the country already have taken the training, including first lady Michelle Obama.

"The biggest message ... is that an individual has the capacity to help," said America Paredes, an instructor in the course. Are you going to avert a mass shooting? Unlikely. Could you stop or postpone a suicide attempt? Definitely.

But how? By making a connection with someone who may have no one else to talk to. By suggesting that he or she seek professional help, right now. By offering some ideas about how that could be done, maybe even helping to place the call. In other words, by responding — the same way you'd grab an automatic defibrillator and try to use it on someone who had collapsed, even if you weren't entirely sure how.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 41,149 suicides in 2013, making suicide the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States.

As uncomfortable or difficult as some questions can be, they can save a life. Imagine asking someone you don't know all that well: "Are you thinking of killing yourself?" The course helps people overcome their reluctance, even fear, of getting involved. It makes clear that you can't plant the idea of suicide in someone's head, which is why many people hold off. It teaches you how, and when, to try to help.

"If you don't know the right question to ask, you're not going to ask it because you're afraid of saying something stupid," Paredes said.

The best approach boils down to a five-letter acronym, ALGEE. You may never have to use this information, but here it is:

A: Assess for risk of suicide or harm.

L: Listen nonjudgmentally.

G: Give reassurance and information.

E: Encourage appropriate professional help.

E: Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Comments
ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ST. PETERSBURGShyly, 8-year-old Annabelle Brassfield climbed atop a stool in front of a blank easel, grabbed a brush she named Scarlet and prepared to paint her scars. After three open heart surgeries for a severe congenital heart defect, she’s left ...
Published: 06/22/18
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Pergolas’ Saturday morning volunteer work started like most, at a farm cleaning the property and trimming trees. Andrea Pergola, 38, stood on the driveway of the property when she heard her 15-year-old son Logan scream. At first, sh...
Published: 06/20/18
Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

TAMPA — Runners gathered for the Gonzmart’s Father’s Day Walk and Jog where they raise money to help aid in Moffitt Cancer Center’s fight against prostate cancer. This year the event raised $110,000, but Moffitt had another surprise in store.Andrea G...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Published: 06/19/18
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, don’t forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. That’s because both products work to protect your body from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG — Kidney disease doesn’t discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18