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Group holds mental health first aid class

Teaches individuals how to address mental health

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The mental health of children in the La Crosse community is the focus of a class presented to community members Wednesday.

The classes are actually a part of La Crosse's ‘Better Together’, a new program designed to tackle mental health problems in our area.

The mental health first aid training is not taking the place of traditional treatment for mental health.

Instead, it's designed to teach individuals who work with children, more training on how to spot mental health problems. 

Bridget Todd-Robbins works with children as a part of her position with La Crosse County and the La Crosse School District.

"I never feel like I have enough knowledge and skills to meet the need I see among our youth,” Todd-Robbins said. "At least half of them have some pretty significant health issues that contribute to the behavior that we see."

Todd-Robbins is one of several individuals attending a mental health first aid class for children.

"Mental health first aid is a lot like CPR,” said Diana DiazGranados, one of the program’s instructors. “Within this eight-hour public education course, we don't teach how to diagnose a mental health problem. We don't teach how to treat a mental health problem. But it's raising knowledge and awareness about mental health."

The class is open to anyone, and is designed for those who work with children, like teachers and clergy.

"The mental health first aid course focuses on what is typical adolescent development, and then what are those signs and symptoms and warning signs of a mental health crisis. A lot of times they can overlap,” DiazGranados said.

For Todd-Robbins, the class is helping reinforce what she already knows, but it is also helping her find new resources for the students she works with.

"The more adults I know that are working with youth, the better off for my support and my resources so we can work together,” Todd-Robbins said.

Organizers have only held a handful of classes, but the demand is growing.

"We have people on waiting lists, and we are hoping to add more classes in the future,” DiazGranados said.

The class teaches an action plan that helps teach those attending how to listen and provide good advice to children who may be struggling with mental health issues.

Anyone interested in attending a class is urged to contact bettertogetherlax@gmail.com.


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