‘Mental Health First Aid’ courses on campus

Jaylen CarrSports Editor

Hosted by the Wellbeing Center, staff member Tracy Stuardi taught three courses last week, dubbed ‘Mental Health First Aid,’ for students and faculty members on campus to help raise awareness about mental health.  

Stuardi taught the course to the College of Education’s future educators and faculty members on April 28. She led many topics through the session, such as the stereotypes of mental health and noticing red flags. 

“I am trying to host different mental health workshops for the colleges in particular because it is nice to have a group of similar interest to do the training together; they get more out of it,” Stuardi said. “It is a wonderful opportunity even if you aren’t in a group of people with the same background as you.” 

Stuardi discussed how culture could affect our healthcare choices, especially mental health issues.  

“What we hope you gain from this class is to feel more empowered so that I can observe those changes in behavior,” Stuardi said.  

During this session, Stuardi discussed with future educators and faculty how to be aware of mental health instances in the classroom. 

According to the ‘Mental Health First Aid’ program website, it “helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge or crisis. It takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health or substance use by improving understanding and providing an action plan that teaches people to identify and address a potential issue safely and responsibly.” 

Stuardi said having conversations about mental health is crucial because it is a national crisis affecting the country.  

“We have a record number of people of all age ranges with anxiety and depression,” Stuardi said. “Suicide is the number 11 cause of death among adults, and for college age and younger are the number two and number three cause of death.” 

Reaching out to the younger demographic is crucial because they need resources, Stuardi said. 

“Clearly, as a community, something is missing,” Stuardi said. “Mental Health First Aid and the QPR training is one action that I hope help more people to be willing to take to say they recognize my friend, my loved one, my family member, my classmate that is in distress to reach out.” 

Stuardi said the Mental Health First Aid program does not normally operate three times a week but several sessions throughout a semester.  

“I tell people all the time if you have a group that wants to do it, we will make the time because it is that important,” Stuardi said.  

The Wellness Being Center hosts a mental health program to help students to see how mental health affects their field of study.  

“The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis,” according to Owl Connect.  

Many future educators learned much from this course and will use their knowledge in their classrooms.  

Melissa Deroche, a graduate student, said she is an educator in New Haven, and this course helped her know how to support students with needs. 

“I have students that have a lot of needs, and I hope having this information will help me help them meet those needs or at least point them in the right direction,” Deroche said.  

Curriculum and construction major Krishna Soni, a senior, said she attended the program because mental health does not get discussed enough. 

“Being in the education field, we have the power; if I am aware of Mental Health First Aid, then I can teach it to my students, and I can be aware of it when I see it in my students. I would also reach it to my co-workers,” Soni said.  

There should be more conversations about mental health to help combat the sigma, Deroche said.  

“We all have mental health, so it is beneficial for everyone,” Deroche said.  

Soni said it is crucial to have this resource available for students because it helps with the social justice initiative of the university. 

Stuardi said there are some key takeaways she hopes attendees took away from the course, which is to feel empowered.  

“I have yet to host a class where there was at least one, if not more, people disclose they themselves are affected, so it has to be a resource here that they can access,” Stuardi said.  

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