Addressing Mental Health with The Center for African American Health

Cara Marranzino, Mental Health Center Denver

As the community mental health authority for the City and County of Denver and the Rocky Mountain region’s largest provider of behavioral health services, serving over 20,000 persons annually, Mental Health Center of Denver is pleased to provide two Mental Health First Aid training courses in partnership with The Center for African American Health on August 28 and October 10.

On August 28, we will be offering Youth Mental Health First Aid, a course for adults who work and interact regularly with youth. It is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help adolescents (age 12 – 18) who are experiencing addiction or a mental health challenge or crisis. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and offers a five-step action plan for how to help young people, in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

In any given year, one in five adults will experience a mental health issue. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not well informed about how to recognize mental health problems, how to respond, or what treatments are available. Often, they delay getting help unless someone close to them suggests it. That’s why it’s critical to understand how to identify mental health and substance use issues and know how to support a loved one who may be struggling. To aid individuals in recognizing and assisting adults who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, we are partnering with The Center on October 10 to provide Mental Health First Aid for Adults. Just as CPR training allows a person to assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training prepares a person to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Participants of the course learn a five-step action plan to help support an individual until professional help arrives. Topics covered include depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis and substance use disorders. Trainees are taught how to apply the action plan in a variety of situations.

At the Mental Health Center of Denver, we believe that people can and do get better, and recovery looks different for everyone. Studies from across the globe show that the Mental Health First Aid program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care as well as the one receiving it. Further, expanding awareness of mental illnesses and its treatments increases the number of people who get help and reduces overall social stigma towards individuals with mental illness.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Cara Marranzino at Mental Health Center of Denver, cara.marranzino@mhcd.org.