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Oklahoma organizations will offer mental health aid training

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The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is partnering with a local nonprofit to offer three free mental health first aid trainings to help Oklahomans respond to signs of mental health and substance abuse challenges.

The partnership with DCCCA Oklahoma — which provides community and social services to improve health, safety and well-being — comes in recognition of National Suicide Prevention and Recovery Month in September. The prevention services are offering classes to Oklahomans 18 years or older, so they can assist adults and youth exhibiting mental health or substance abuse warning signs.

The training addresses the importance of early intervention. According to a press release from the Department, 4.1% of adults in Oklahoma had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, with one in 10 students reporting attempted suicide in the past 12 months. It also will teach attendees how to handle crises through role-playing exercises and videos illustrating real-life situations.

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges wrote in the release that offering this mental health training helps empower adults with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide early intervention.

“Everyone has a role in preventing suicide,” Slatton-Hodges wrote. “No matter who you are, you can help save a life by knowing the warning signs and understanding what to do when you recognize someone is at risk.”

Participants who complete the training will receive six continuing education units — which are used to help professionals maintain their license. Licensed drug and alcohol counselors in Oklahoma, for example, are required to obtain 20 hours of continuing education units to maintain their licenses.

The mental health first aid training will be offered through in-person, blended and virtual sessions. Blended courses, which are held on Zoom, will require participants to complete two hours of self-paced pre-work in the connect system before they attend. Participants will receive log-in credentials when registration for the training closes.

Training for responding to adults in crisis will be held in person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday at the DCCCA Oklahoma in Edmond and virtually on Sept. 27. The class for responding to youth will be held virtually from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 13. Interested Oklahomans can register on DCCCA Oklahoma’s website.

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Jillian Taylor has been StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter since August 2023.
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