APD learns mental health 1st aid

Published 1:02 am Saturday, September 5, 2015

Andalusia Police Department officers participate in an exercise during mental health first aid.

Andalusia Police Department officers participate in an exercise during mental health first aid.

Only 41 percent of people with mental illness use mental health services in any given year.

On Thursday, South Central Mental Health teamed up with the Andalusia Police Department to teach mental health first aid practices to better learn to deal with mental health crises.

According to Marketing and Training Coordinator Staci Wilson, mental illnesses can be more disabling than many chronic physical illnesses.

Wilson taught law enforcement the tips to a mental health first aid action plan, which are:

• 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.

Those in attendance learned the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety as well as the risk factors for depression and anxiety.

They also learned to assess for risk of suicide or harm.

“The most common crises to assess for with depressive and anxiety symptoms are suicidal thoughts and behaviors and non-suicidal self injury,” she said.

Wilson talked about the reason for self-injury, which are sometimes the only thing that keeps people alive.

• To escape unbearable anguish;

• To change the behavior of others;

• To escape a situation;

• To show desperation to others;

• To get back at other people;

• To gain relief from tension; and

• To seek help

“Do not focus on stopping the self injury,” she said. “Do not trivialize the feelings or situations that have led to self injury. Do not punish the person and do not threaten to withdraw care.”

Wilson said to seek emergency medical help when someone has:

• Taken an overdose of medication;

• Consumed poison;

• A life-threatening injury;

• Confusion, disorientation or unconsciousness; and

• Rapid or pulsing bleeding.

Mental health first aid classes are available through SCAMH.

For more information, call 222-2525.