First aid training for the mind

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) – No doubt many of you have taken first aid just in case you or someone you love needs medical help fast.

But what about when it comes to your mental health. How about first aid for your mind?

At the mental health first aid training in Binghamton Wednesday night, 24 students were ready to learn.

“I’m just hoping to get more knowledge,” Stephanie Arm of Owego told us. “I think knowledge is power.”

Especially when it comes to the power of the mind, she says, and how much it can control you or someone around you.

“I think just learning the signs will be able to help more people,” she added.

The students learning about the signs of conditions like depression, anxiety, even how substance abuse affects mental health.

“We are trying to give people tools in their toolbox to be able to look at someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and what do they do about it,” said Joanne Weir, development director at the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier.

Weir says the two-day 8-hour program is just like first aid for your body. They take a look at the signs and symptoms of various mental health diagnoses and then try to understand what’s going on.

Weir cites this example. “It’s the difference, I always say, between walking in the mall and seeing someone in distress on a bench and kind of making that wide turn away from them versus stopping for a moment and maybe it’s as simple as asking, is there someone I can call for you? Is there something I can do?”

The goal is to give the students a better idea of what to do if they find themselves ready to give some mental first aid.

“Everything we do here is to break down stigma, to help people that are experiencing a mental health situation and realize that they’re not alone,” Weir said.

“With a few of us here learning, we can spread it to our community, to our friends, to our family,” Arm said as she prepares for Thursday night’s session.

Weir says it all comes down to breaking down stigma to help people realize they’re not alone.

Paul Mueller

Paul Mueller

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