The University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government is hosting a Mental Health First Aid training course aimed to help UConn students be more comfortable discussing mental health, according to Rebecca Feldman, USG mental health and wellness sub-committee co-chair and sixth-semester civil engineering major.
The eight-hour course aims to teach students about mental health, substance abuse, key phrases and resources for themselves and others. The main goal is to help build confidence and start conservation.
“The momentum that mental health has right now I think is motivating for people to seek out these trainings and help themselves and feel a need to help the community and this is a good first step,” Feldman said.
The next in-person training is scheduled for Saturday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, the location to be determined. There was going to be an in-person session Saturday, March 28. The class is trying to be made virtual with Zoom, a video conference site, but is not yet confirmed. The March class was already at maximum capacity with 30 students enrolled.
The classes will be small to create a comfortable setting, Feldman said.
“I was recently told that the reason why mental health isn’t always addressed in our classes is because it is a class of 50, 100, 300 people and it is really hard to have a comfortable conversation about something that is uncomfortable and that is so stigmatized,” Feldman said. “In these big spaces, I don’t think it allows the proper time for each person to get one-on-one that they may need in that time.”
Feldman said the training can help students start good conversation and build a stronger peer community.
“We are all resources for each other,” Feldman said.
Mental Health First Aid is a specific course that “gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis,” according to the Mental Health First Aid website. The National Council for Behavioral Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health runs Mental Health First Aid USA.
During the course, a Mental Health First Aid instructor will discuss action plans to support individuals in crisis with self-help strategies and other topics, according to the Mental Health First Aid website.
At the end of the course, students will receive an online certificate, Feldman said.
Kasey Macedo, a sixth-semester psychological sciences and human development and family sciences major, said she attended a previous Mental Health First Aid training course and found it quite helpful.
“The training consisted of informative presentations and small and large group activities that prompted the application of training skills for people in mental health crises,” Macedo said.
Feldman said the training is for anyone and everyone.
“This is for anyone,” Feldman said. “If you want to learn, if you want to advocate for your peers, if you just want to know what everyone is talking about on-campus, it’s for you. You can come in with zero knowledge and build a base to go off of. If you have a lot of knowledge, refresh and learn something new as well. I would really suggest it. If you are open minded, go for it.”
Thumbnail file photo courtesy of The Daily Campus.
Rachel Philipson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.