Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 7:14 PM EST
Published : Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 7:14 PM EST
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- A Mental Health First Aid course is aimed at taking the stigma off mental health and substance abuse disorders.
The hope is this that Mental Health First Aid will be like CPR so that it becomes an integral part of the community.
The premise behind it is early intervention, early identification.
The mental health crisis in America is now on the minds of many in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. At Rushford, which offers a comprehensive behavioral health program have people, not experts in the field taking mental health first aid training.
"It's like providing CPR on someone who is suffering a heart attack. You're there, you're not a physician but you're providing temporary emergency assistance," said Sheryl Sprague a mental health first aid instructor.
They're learning things such as how to intervene, how to provide temporary assistance and how to refer professional help if needed. Interaction like tossing a stuffed bear.
"This is Stephanie's brain and the neurotransmitters are firing in a great way, everything is good. Stephanie feels good, there's no depression. Now Stephanie, drop Algea (stuffed bear), good, so depression has set in. You with me," said the instructor.
Underscores what goes on in the brain when depression occurs. All this education and awareness is about de-stigmatizing mental health.
"There are treatments for the illness itself if someone can get there but if in the community, people aren't talking to you and they are turning their heads and they're cross the street, that is what can lead to worst outcomes," said Dr. J. Craig Allen, Rushford Chief Medical Officer.
Elise Delacruz is a sexual assualt counselor who knows now that mental health is a disorder that can be treated.
"I think from this point on, I'm more encouraged to inquire a little bit more to see if this is an ongoing problem, has this preceded a traumatic event and so I can get a better referral for them, to get the best help," said Delacruz.
Betsy Dean works with middle school and high school students.
"We've had kids come in with issues but I think this allows us to be more sensitive to what their feeling," said Dean.
For more information, visit www.rushford.org/ or call toll free, 1-877-577-3233.