MANKATO, MN - First aid courses usually involve learning CPR and tying bandages, but the Mankato Clinic is teaching a very different sort of first aid.
 
It could mean the difference between life and death.

Mary Beth Trembley, the nurse who runs the class, says: "What we're trying to do is have each other reach out in the initial stages and maybe not be so frightened in talking about anxiety or depression or suicide thinking or psychosis."

The Mankato Clinic is teaching 'Mental Health First Aid.'  It's an 8 hour course that teaches people to recognize and carefully intervene if they think someone is having a mental crisis.
 
Nurse Nicole Krenik, who took the class, said: "So far I've kind of learned there's a lot of people that don't seek help that could be, missed opportunities, things that we should be watching for."

Some signs of a mental problem are somewhat obvious.
 
"So somebody looks depressed, or they look angry, they're crying, they're lethargic, they're missing work, they're not socializing.", Trembley said.

Others can be more difficult to spot.

"The symptoms are more internal.  They're feelings.  So people will feel a lot of guilt or shame or anger."

Those same feelings are part of the stigma that is attached to mental illness.

"We, on a regular basis, when we hear someone has a mental illness, the first thing that comes into our mind, it usually isn't a positive response.", Krenik said.

Part of this program deals with those stigmas, which often keeps those who are having problems from seeking help.

"Our goal is that they will seek help and that could be with your clergy, it could be with your neighbor, it could be with a coworker, employee assistance program, it could be with your primary care doctor, which is more often the case.", Trembley said.
 
The Mankato Clinic is holding another Mental Health First Aid class on November 8th.  It costs $60 and runs from 8am to 5pm.
 
If you would like to register visit:  www.mankatoclinic.com/mental-health-first-aid