One of the most common New Year’s resolutions involves a promise to exercise more or eat a better diet. But here in Colorado, we’ve got physical health down pat (at least for the most part)—it’s mental health we need to worry about. As of 2011, 30 percent of Coloradans were in need of mental health care, but it can be difficult to spot symptoms of these problems without the proper training.
Luckily, Mental Health First Aid Colorado offers free eight-hour courses that teach participants how to identify mental illness in others, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, and substance abuse. Participants learn a general five-step action plan that includes directives like “assess for risk of suicide and harm” and “listen nonjudgmentally,” as well as disorder-specific responses. The program, which was originally established in Australia, aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and create more visible opportunities to seek help.
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Multiple locations across the state offer Mental Health First Aid classes year-round. Attend the Mental Health Center of Denver’s session today, January 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn about kid-specific behaviors or focus on adults with MHCD’s course on Monday, January 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Select classes are split into two parts on different days. Check Mental Health First Aid Colorado or the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council for more details.
Follow editorial assistant Mary Clare Fischer on Twitter at @mc_fischer.