Mental health first aid offered in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mental Health First Aid Certification Training — a public education program that already has trained over a million people in the U.S.— is being offered to anyone interested on two separate days at Alcorn State University’s Natchez Campus.

Adult Mental Health First Aid Certification will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification — designed to teach educators, human service workers, parents and all others who work with youth ages 12-18 will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26.

A licensed psychologist and certified Mental Health First Aid trainer,  I will lead both adult and youth courses. Continuing education units are available for licensed registered nurses, licensed educators and licensed social workers.

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There is increasing awareness that mental health problems, which are often unrecognized and difficult to talk about because of stigma, take a tremendous toll on people. The human cost in terms of suffering, early death from illness or suicide, and economic loss has only been recognized in the past few years. For example, 27 percent of adult males and 40 percent of females in Mississippi report poor mental health.

Overall, youth mental health is worsening. Anxiety disorders now begin on average at 11 years old. More than half of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. The national economic cost of mental illness — including lost wages — is more than $100 billion dollars a year. Lack of understanding and stigma are major stumbling blocks to people getting the help and support they need.

Mental Health First Aid in both its Adult and Youth version teaches a five-step action plan to help people in crisis and non-crisis situations. It introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports including self-help, social, peer, and professional resources. Faith-based organizations, first responders, teachers, health professionals and family members and friends are giving Mental Health First Aid high marks for its usefulness and engaging training approach.  The training is a cooperative effort between Catholic Charities, Inc. Diocese of Jackson and the Institute of International Care and Counsel at Belhaven University with partial funding through a donation made by the Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Natchez Class of 2014.

Online registration is available at: (Adult, January 25th) and (Youth, January 26th) trainings. These are two different training opportunities. Participants may choose one or both of the trainings. Registration is required for each training session. Cost is $30 for each session, which covers the manual, continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  The certification trainings are open to the public. An additional $30 continuing education fee per session will apply for those professionals seeking CEU credit. For more information, contact Ann Elizabeth Kaiser MSN, RN, Faith Community Nurse and Licensed MS Educator at 601-807-1840 or
Dr. Bradford Smith, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and certified Mental Health First Aid trainer.