The course was a different type of first aid than most of these students in the medical field were familiar with. Instead of treating obvious medical emergencies like a broken bone, choking, drowning or severe bleeding, this course introduced the students to risk factors and warning signs of mental health emergencies.
The 8-hour course used role playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer first aid steps in mental health emergency and connect a patient to appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care.
The program also taught common risk factors and warning signs of common mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia.
The course at TCAT Elizabethton was taught by Melissa A. Taylor, a nurse consultant with the Northeast Regional Health Office, Division of Emergency Preparedness.
Taylor said the ultimate goal is to establish emergency response teams in East, Middle and West Tennessee. Team members trained in mental health first aid would be allowed to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help.
The Tennessee Department of Health is providing the training for nurses, hospital staff, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, educators, employers and business leaders, among others.
To schedule a class, email Taylor at Melissa.A.Taylor@tn.gov. For more information or questions about mental health first aid, visit www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org.