Monroe County residents can receive training in mental health first aid and recognizing signs and symptoms of mental health issues this summer for free through Prevention Insights.
Prevention Insights is a nonprofit organization through the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington that was established to focus on drug abuse prevention but has expanded to offer other mental health services.
There are two virtual training dates each month, running from June to August, with some sessions for those who work with individuals aged 8 to 18 and others who work with adults. The training sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can sign up for a training session here.
Albert Gay, a certified trainer for the Prevention Insights mental health first aid program, said the training sessions help people be aware of how common mental health issues are and help reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.
“Stigma is such a wall that prevents people from going forward to get help,” Gay said.
He said the pandemic has increased the need for these training sessions because people have not been able to be physically present with others who can provide support.
“Isolation is one of the key contributing factors to those things that propagate or allow mental health challenges to go unnoticed,” Gay said. “Whenever people aren't able to get together sometimes, along with stigma, people are less able to get the resources, and people really need the support.”
Heather Dolne, the Mental Health Awareness Training project director, said Prevention Insights was able to offer this training for free through grant money awarded to the program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She said free training has been offered for the past several years and hopes it can continue in the future with more grant money.
Before the pandemic, the training sessions had occurred in-person, but the model has now shifted to a virtual format, Dolne said. She said these training sessions are not meant to teach people how to diagnose mental health issues, but to focus on connecting with others and helping refer them to mental health professionals if needed.
“Really the emphasis is on ‘Let’s be that in-between that people feel comfortable coming to us and then we can help work through some of the feelings they are experiencing,’” Dolne said.
She said the training sessions have an action plan called ALGEE, which helps individuals know what to do in situations involving mental health issues.
ALGEE stands for assess for risk of suicide or harm; listen nonjudgmentally; give reassurance and information; encourage appropriate professional help; and encourage self-help and other support strategies, according to an IU news release about the program.
Rachael Cohen, a discovery systems librarian at the Herman B Wells library, said she participated in a group mental health first aid training session in January 2021 available for those at Wells.
“As a public services librarian, I figured it would be a good opportunity to be more up-to-date about mental health issues, the signs and services you can offer our students, staff and faculty as well as my co-workers,” Cohen said.
During the training session, Cohen said she learned that her role in mental health situations is to listen to the other person and then help refer them to a mental health professional if needed. She said the session helped her to also see the scale of how many people were affected by mental health issues and the signs indicating someone may need help.
“I think everybody should take this,” Cohen said. “All students, staff and faculty I think would benefit from it.”