Northlanders Learn Mental Health First Aid Training First Hand

By KBJR News 1

August 7, 2013 Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 10:39 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- When it comes to administering first-aid, most of us think of things like learning the Heimlich maneuver, or CPR, but what if the crisis involves a person's mental health?

Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions for adults were taught at The University of Minnesota Duluth on Wednesday.

The UMD Continuing Education Department hosted an 8 hour course to teach about normal adolescent behavior and to point out red flags that are seen in youth that may be developing mental health issues.

"It's important for everybody to learn about mental health with youth, with adults, but especially with youth because we as adults all are in contact with young people," said Julie Ciurleo, a private music instructor who attended the course.
The focus of the session was primarily on youth ages 12-25.

Those in attendance participated in various activities, one of which mimicked what a person with schizophrenia might go through on a daily basis.

"I never knew what it would feel like to be the person with the voices in my head, and to try and function in just a regular conversation," said Ciurleo.
Lee Berlinquette, a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, says that it's important to look at and teach about preventative measures because kids are developing mental illnesses more frequently, and at earlier ages than in the past.
"Kids are developing things a lot earlier. Again, we don't want to start pointing fingers going 'okay that kid might have that, this kid might have that,' but again, sometimes we miss those red flags," said Berlinquette.
Those who attended the training session ranged in professions from nurses, to school teachers, to people with mental illnesses themselves, or those who have children that suffer from various mental health issues.
"This would be just beneficial for anybody that works with youth or comes in contact with youth," said Berlinquette.
"If I can just know that I touched one persons life then I know I will have done something for my community," said Ciurleo.
Berlinquette says that having open conversations with your children and not associating a stigma with mental health and mental illness were 2 of the most important lessons to take from the training session.
Elsa Robins