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The Center encourages participation in Mental Health First Aid class
Kristian Pearson provides CPR training at The Center for Counseling & Consultation. He also presents the Mental Health First Aid class.

A discussion about a first-aid class sparked an idea about additional specialized training for Family Crisis Center (FCC) staff members.

As a result, they recently participated in a one-day class on Mental Health First Aid at The Center for Counseling & Consultation, 5815 Broadway.

“If we learn about physical first aid, why not mental health too,” said Jamie Fager, FCC program director of the Domestic & Sexual Violence Center. “Mental health is a huge component of everyone’s life, including at the workplace. COVID has just amplified this.

“Quarantining was rough for many people,” she explained. “Working at home might have been okay in the beginning but the lack of social interaction led to mental-health issues for some. The Center’s class could help any business or agency better serve their clients, customers and employees.”

The class is designed for non-profit agencies, private businesses, first responders, teachers, civic and religious organizations, as well as individuals.

“We use the knowledge we gained to better support our clients and one another at our shelter, in the office and at our Child Advocacy Center,” Fager said. “We are always looking for new information and training opportunities so that we can know more today than we did yesterday.”

Fager noted that with physical first aid, the problem is usually obvious. 

“But in the case of mental health, we need to zero in on what we cannot see,” she commented. “When we are equipped with more information, we can better serve those who count on us.

“We assess, listen in a non-judgmental way, offer reassurance and provide resources,” Fager added. “Those with mental-health issues often suffer silently because they don’t think they have support. But we are here for them.”

The Center’s Class

Kristian Pearson, safety and onboarding coordinator, said he and his colleagues are enhancing efforts to encourage businesses, organizations and individuals to take advantage of the Mental Health First Aid course.

“There is a national push to address mental-health issues and remove the stigma associated with them,” Pearson said. “We want to be part of this. Mental-health concerns can be a silent killer if left untreated. We want to give people a voice when they think they have no voice.”

Businesses are asked to consider the effects of employees’ mental-issues on the bottom line. More than $700 billion is lost each year because of missed work days, resulting is less productivity and other problems, Pearson noted.

The information gleaned from the eight-hour class can help employees feel better about their jobs, which often results in enhanced recruitment and retention, he said.

“The class also can suggest ways to talk to frustrated customers, which is a factor in return business,” Pearson noted.

Locally, some businesses have expressed interest in the class but haven’t yet followed through.

“I encourage them and others to give us a call,” Pearson said. “Mental health first aid is just as important as physical first aid. We usually know when to call 911 for a physical problem but we don’t know how to respond to a panic attack or concern that someone is showing signs of alcoholism.

“Our class can take the fear out of starting conversations. When we are equipped with the appropriate tools, we can start a dialogue. This can even save lives.”

Pearson also noted that “if employees realize their boss takes this topic seriously, they will too.”

Those who complete the course receive a two-year certificate. The class can be presented at The Center or another location.

For more information about the class and pricing options, contact The Center by calling 620-792-2544.

The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.