Mental Health Training Available to the Public

Posted on October 3, 2012 By

An accident or a medical emergency? Most of us are programmed to call 911.  But what about a mental health emergency?  The news is full of alleged perpetrators who seem to have a history of untreated mental illness or who were displaying tell-tale signs of a mental illness leading up to a tragedy. It is obvious that more people need to learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and how to help before tragedy strikes.

What exactly are the signs and symptoms of someone in need of mental health first aid? Two staff members of Preferred Behavioral Health of NJ, 700 Airport Road, Lakewood, recently became certified mental health first aid instructors for other professionals and community members.

Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour training certification course designed to offer professionals and community members the skills to help them identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. It teaches participants how to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and secure appropriate care to help individuals in crisis or those developing the signs and symptoms of a mental illness.

The training also teaches people how to provide initial help until appropriate professional, peer or family support is available. Participants become aware of the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction. Moreover, those who are trained learn how to initiate timely referrals to mental health resources available in the community.

Julie Vanore, vice president of Preferred Behavioral Health, said, “We need to seriously consider the importance of having people learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses before tragedy strikes.”

Mental Health First Aid training is available to the public and is designed specifically to provide a framework of action for those who are not mental health professionals.  The training also helps people understand available treatments and accept mental illnesses as a medical condition.

For more information about Mental Health First Aid Training for your organization or community, contact Maryann Gigon at 732-458-1700 Ext. 1118 or email her at For more information on Mental Health First Aid, visit