Monday, August 22, 2016
Hastings Completes Mental Health First Aid Instructors Course
Dr. Todd Hastings, assistant professor of nursing, recently completed the 32 hour Mental Health First Aid instructors course at the University of Chicago. Dr. Hastings is now certified to teach the Mental Health First Aid course and plans to offer this course to the campus community. The course teaches skills for providing initial help to people experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and substance use disorders that can occur during the college years.
College students have remarkable stressors related to the demands of living in a campus setting. Balancing academic, social, and work responsibilities away from the supports of family and friends can not only be challenging but debilitating and lead to personal crisis. Students who are struggling at college may start to display unusual behaviors and feel out of balance. Some may begin to display signs of a true mental illness during their early adulthood or even show signs of desperation leading to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
According to Hastings, “As a faculty member and advisor, I was very aware of the potential for students to experience an emotional crisis. My teaching and scholarly focus on psychiatric-mental health nursing education and practice supports a general concern for people struggling with mental illness. I have also noticed the hesitancy in many students to consider accessing any counseling resources due to stigma surrounding such problems.”
The purpose of having a credentialed instructor for Mental Health First Aid in the community is to provide training in Mental Health First Aid, analogous to those who receive instruction in medical first aid or CPR. Interested individuals on campus will be taught strategies to assist someone experiencing a psychosocial crisis or developing symptoms consistent with mental illness. The training may empower campus staff, faculty, and students to help intervene early and limit the consequences of individuals on campus suffering psychological distress.
Currently 40% of young adults age 18-24 are enrolled in a college setting. Public health statistics indicate 75% of mental illnesses occur before age 25. Thus, university environments are ideal locations for early identification of an emerging mental health problem. Early identification of an emerging problem and rapid intervention may help prevent unfortunate consequences. Mental Health First Aid as a process can lead to positive outcomes relative to engagement of those having difficulty coping with stressors on campus.