Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering virtual and in-person education programs to help Iowans identify and respond to a variety of mental health challenges. Mental Health First Aid will be offered in January and February.

“Research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that nearly one in five adults lives with a mental illness,” said Demi Johnson, behavioral health program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Mental Health First Aid isn’t a self-help program. Instead, participants learn how to help someone else who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

“Participants will learn how to comfortably talk with their spouse, child, friend or neighbor about that person’s mental health. It’s not an easy conversation, but it is important, and can save their life,” said Johnson.

Mental Health First Aid covers how to intervene during a wide range of mental health related challenges including, but not limited to, depression and anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and substance abuse, as well as when someone is thinking about attempting suicide.

“Many people experience co-occurring mental health challenges. Understanding a wide range of disorders can be extremely valuable when trying to understand another person’s experience and in helping them identify which treatment options are going to be the most appropriate for them,” said Johnson.

ISU Extension and Outreach will offer Adult Mental Health First Aid on Jan. 26 and Feb. 24. Youth Mental Health First Aid programs for adults working with youth will be held on Jan. 14 and Jan. 28. To register for an upcoming class, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/MHFA.

For more information, contact Demi Johnson at demij@iastate.edu.

Other resources

Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, and stress or crisis and disaster issues.

As Iowans deal with disruptions to their families and communities, this website at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/disaster-recovery provides information to help you cope with concerns about stress and relationships, personal finance, and nutrition and wellness.

COVID Recovery Iowa offers a variety of services to anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual counselors and consultants provide counseling, family finance consultation, farm financial consultation, referral information and help finding resources for any Iowan seeking personal support. Iowans of all ages may join groups online for activities and learn creative strategies for coping with the effects of the pandemic. COVID Recovery Iowa will announce upcoming programs on the website and via social media to help Iowans build coping skills, resilience and emotional support. To request support, go to https://www.COVIDrecoveryiowa.org or call the Iowa Warm Line at 844-775-9276.