In response to the mental health crisis throughout the country, St. Benedict’s Shelter will begin offering Mental Health First Aid training in the community.
Mental Health First Aid, according to Harry Pedigo, executive director of St. Benedict’s, is an evidence-based training provided by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
Similar to regular first aid, Pedigo said, the training will teach individuals how to help someone experiencing a crisis, but one related to mental health issues.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one-in-five adults live with a mental illness.
With the statistics and the rise in mental health concerns also brought on by COVID-19, Pedigo said it is important to place a focus on bringing awareness to the issue and teaching the community how to help someone experiencing a crisis.
“With COVID, we’re kind of in a mental health crisis across the nation, and with the homeless population, a big percentage of the issues that they struggle with is related to mental health issues,” he said. “We thought that providing mental health first aid would better serve not only our clients, but our community, too.”
Mental health crises, he said, can be brought on by a number of events in someone’s life, whether it is substance use issues, a traumatic event or someone who is living with mental illness.
“Those different life events create a mental health crisis, and so the more people that are aware of this, the more people that can help destigmatize it, the more people we can reach and help,” Pedigo said, “and we’re contributing to the solution instead of the problem.”
Pedigo is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. He’s able to provide the tools those in the community need to assist someone in a mental health crisis and connect them with the necessary resources, all while remaining safe themselves.
The training, he said, consists of three hours worth of course work, in-person or online training and a test.
“It will destigmatize mental health-related issues, it will help an individual recognize when someone is in a mental health crisis, it will help them understand how to approach that individual and be helpful instead of harmful,” he said. “It will allow them to know the resources and professionals within their community that can better assist an individual, depending on the gravity of their mental health crisis.”
Training is available on an individual basis or for any local agencies or organizations that want to provide training for staff.
Anyone interested can reach out to Pedigo or the shelter.
St. Benedict’s is also holding its annual “Champions of Hope” campaign, during which local businesses and organizations have an opportunity to be a champion for clients within the St. Benedict’s Women’s and Family Services shelter by providing an annual sponsorship to help fund vital services.
Those interested in becoming a sponsor can reach out to the shelter at 270-216-5910.