Group offers first aid training for mental health crises

July 19, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The mental health first aid was created in Austrialia in 2001.

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) has been training people since 2008.

At one of the C4 mental health first aid sessions, staff from different social service agencies go through two days of training.

"The training is a twelve-hour training and they get certified as Menatl Health First Aiders with a certification that lasts three years," Viviana Ploper, the associate director of C4, "The training teaches people through a series of simulations and exercises how to deal with different mental illness, such as psychosis, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, and it has shown to be really fun from the evaluations we get."

Ploper is one of the first aid trainers.

"Mental Health First Aid helps people (with) what to do if they're encountering somebody with an emotional problem or somebody who's having a crisis or a mental illness," she said. "We have been training…police, we had judges, we had faith community, we had social services people and we are able to offer continuing education. Recently we got certified to provide education hours to emergency personnel."

C4 was the first in Chicago to offer this program.

"It was difficult at the beginning, but once we began explaining what the program is about, people realized what the need is."

Judy Scott works at Chicago Read Mental Health Clinic. She went through the program last year.

"I went back to Chicago Read and I talked to the Director of Social Worker and told her to try and spread the word out that our social workers could come here and get training," Scott said.

The cost for the training is $40.

"We often say that it's much easier to encounter somebody with emotional problems or with a mental illness than it is to run into somebody that has a heart attack," Ploper said.

If you are interested in learning more about Mental Health First Aid, visit

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