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Monday, June 24, 2024
HomeCommunityCommunity Mental Health Training Expands Reach

Community Mental Health Training Expands Reach

For those who couldn’t attend the recent mental health training held in Two Harbors, another opportuni­ty is on the horizon. Following an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, the organiz­ers are taking the initiative to ensure wider accessibility.

The free in-person training is part of the “Be There in 2024” cam­paign from Lake View Hospital and Lake County Public Health. It was designed to help community members who want to be there for others who may be struggling with mental health but may not always know the best way to do so.

Based on the feedback from the first class back in February, there is a strong interest in the community to learn how to be of better support. There are a lot of compassionate people who live and work in our area who want to know what to do when they think someone needs help.

“The majority of people said that they wanted to learn how to be helpful to others. Which says so much about our community,” said Rachel Gischia, manager of Com­munity Outreach and Emergency Preparedness at Lake View. “They wanted to help in a better way, how to feel empowered to communicate about the hard stuff, how to help people with deep grief and trauma, what to say, and what not to say.”

The training is built to provide skills to assist with all the above and more. It was created and in­structed by Dr. Sarah Wells, MSW LISW, who is a mental health therapist and educator and works at the College of St. Scholastica. Dr. Wells was asked to tailor the training to include community members who are outside of the mental health field.

“The instructor at the beginning said we know of people who are in need of help, they don’t go straight to their therapist or their doctor. They are going to their best friend, their mom, their neighbor and the peo­ple in church,” said Rachel. “The more people that have a little more skill the better we’ll all be.”

Concerned citizens traveled from Ely, Finland, Silver Bay, Dulu­th and Grand Marais to join Two Harbors residents at the Lake View Conference Center to learn to Lis­ten, Ask, Know your resources, and Encourage help. The famil­iar sounding acronym L.A.K.E. is a customized approach from Dr. Wells.

The training is less of a lecture and more of a discussion.

“One thing I really appreciated was that people asked a lot of questions and engaged in a lot of discussion with each other and the instructor,” she said. “A lot of times people sit there, and they listen. This was dif­ferent. A lot more dialog.”

The attendees were given tips on how to be an active listener and how to have conversations around mental health. Dr. Wells spoke about what a mental health emergency is versus a medical health emergency and how sometimes it can be both. She provided approaches to asking if someone is thinking about hurt­ing themselves.

There were a lot of questions for the instructor. The participants wanted to understand the best ter­minology to use when talking to someone they think may need help. They asked about when to use re­sources and which resources to use.

Some of these questions revolve around 988 and what happens when you dial that number. I didn’t know myself and asked if it was a crisis line. Rachel told me the Human Development Center rep­resentative who manages the calls in our area stresses that it’s not just for crisis. It can be hard to define or measure what qualifies as a crisis. 988 is for any mental health sup­port or resources and anyone can call it. “You don’t have to feel like you are at your last resort,” Rachel explained. “This can be used early on, and it is encouraged for early intervention.”

They also asked about resources for kids and teens. They asked about Naloxone, a potentially life sav­ing drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, and how to use and store it. Some of the partic­ipants also asked questions about real situations close to their hearts.

“I think people felt comfortable in the space to ask the questions and they were ready to talk about it. That’s something I’ve noticed that has changed in the last few years,” Rachel said.

That sounds like we’re moving in the right direction. And many want to be a part of it. Fifty community members from all walks of life were at the first training sessions. Some worked with youth, as coaches or at camps. Others were bartenders and hair stylists, whom Rachel ensured were personally invited to attend. There were members of churches and people of all ages. Most were not mental health professionals. All of them were united by a common goal of learning to support individ­uals in need.

In a survey taken after the class, a majority of the respondents indi­cated they knew much more about the resources available in the com­munity. Many remarked about how much they had learned. A local chaplain expressed how impressed she was with how the instructor en­gaged with the group.

The training is coming to both Sil­ver Bay and Finland on Wednesday, April 10th. Hosted by the North Shore Mental Health Group, the class will be held at the Claire Nel­son Center in Finland from 1:00 – 2:30 PM and at the Silver Bay Public Library from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. Ev­eryone is invited to attend and there is no registration required.

“We want to give more opportu­nity to learn,” said Rachel. “We do know this is a big issue and we think the timing is right. People are more open, and almost desperate, to learn the information so they can help themselves and their neigh­bors.”

For any questions regarding the up­coming training, call 218-226-4136.

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