The class trains citizens how to recognize signs and symptoms of various mental illnesses – from depression to anxiety disorder and drug abuse disorder.
Participants also learn not to listen judgmentally and peel off in crisis situations. In addition, they receive a list of mental health and substance abuse resources.
The program started in the United States 12 years ago and has grown in popularity with nearly 2 million Americans educated nationwide. They include teachers, paramedics, personnel managers, priests and daily citizens who hope to help, if necessary.
"Mental health first aid training is literally for everyone and everyone," says Schwartz.
The US government adopted an action in 2015 that awarded $ 20 million to the program; so it is free in most communities.
It is not a substitute for professional therapy. It's like giving CPR to someone before medics come.
Only 40% of people with mental health problems actually seek help. That is why Schwartz says that this class is so important.
"When we fight, we cannot know where to turn to help. We cannot feel good at being willing to ask for help."
Ohio is fighting back to suicide
recently attended a mental health first aid workshop in Defiance, Ohio, part of the state struggling with a high degree of addiction and suicide.
"Since 1999, Ohio has had a 30% increase in suicide rates and is above the national average for suicide rates," said Karen VonDeylen, social worker with the Maumee Valley Guidance Center and director of Mental Health First Aid.
"So it is really important that we get information in people's hands. They are not easy to talk to and often people rush away from it."
VonDeylen says the class exploded this year with 20 workshops offered since last summer.
"We've had many businesses, HR leaders, churches and pastors tense and work with their ward and get them excited."
"I think much of it is mouth to mouth," says VonDeylen.
Learning the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Problems
The instructors pointed out some signs and symptoms of any psychological problem.
For depression, the physical signs include lack of energy, sleep too much or too little, overeating or loss of appetite, headaches, unexplained pain and pain. The behavioral signs are crying magic, withdrawal from others, loss of motivation and slow motion.
"We notice someone who is usually well kept and put together. We notice a drop in their hygiene that can be a very good indicator of something going on," said BJ Horner to the class. Horner is one of the instructors of Mental Health First Aid and is a preventative specialist for the Maumee County Guidance Center
Class participants were shown how to calmly walk through a panic attack by having them focused on a particular color or sound to Soothe their racing thoughts. By focusing on the five senses, "getting them to focus attention on something other than what they are panicking about."
They reenacted a woman with panic attacks, pacing back and forth. The person who helped them imitated their movements, but walked slowly.
Then she said, "Let me have some flowers in my hand – I want you to smell the flowers." This forces people to breathe through their noses, reducing their breathing rate.
The class also participated in an exercise – imitating how it may be to experience a psychotic episode, especially when someone hears voices.
The lesson here: Do not tell anyone, they do not experience anything when it is true to them.
"Though it is not right for us, it is for them. And we must remember it," Horner told the class.
"We don't train anyone to be professional. We only teach people how to be an empathic friend, family member or colleague," Schwartz said.
Memorizing a life-saving acronym – ALGEE
A great takeaway from the workshop is to teach the acronym ALGEE, a driving license on how to respond when someone really fights.
"A" stands for "assess for risk of injury or suicide." The coaches ask if anyone is thinking of hurting themselves, actually being a great lifeguard.
"L" stands for "listen non-judgmental." You should not offer advice, explains Horner.
You must listen, not interrupt, and really try to hear what they say without judgment. That makes the person really feel heard and safe, says Horner.
"This is their story and they need to talk. Our judgment can't come into play. If it does, we won't be the one they are willing to talk to anymore."
" G" is for "providing information and reassurance." Each student gets a list of mental health and addiction resources to their community that can be handed over to those in need.
"E" is for "encouraging professional help if needed."
E " stands for" encourage self-help. "
"It's going to be very important to have some purchases in their own recovery," says Horner to the class. "We can all say" I did this ". Get them involved in these decision-making skills."
Losing a brother to suicide
Class participant Peggy Oyer lost his brother to suicide 11 years ago.
"I was very uninformed. I was one of those people who said" get over it. Pull up your bootstraps and continue. "
She also has family members suffering from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
"Every day of life you forget to listen and pay attention on, "said Oyer to CNN.
" everyone is struggling with something. When someone says something – listen, "says Oyer." If you are uncomfortable, this class will help you become more confident about reaching someone. "
HR manager searched for training after a tragedy
Tina Bost works with 200 employees in her work as HR manager for a car manufacturer supplier company outside Toledo, Ohio. with aging problems: dementia, depression and even psychosis.
She took the class last February after an interaction with an employee she now realizes, probably suffering from bipolar disorder and experiencing psychosis.
"I had worked with her more than 25 years and did not know. I heard she went through things. Star out in space and give strange answers, "says Bost CNN.
" There was an incident where she threatened another employee. I'm going to talk to her and it was like it never happened as if I was out of her. "
During a phone call, the woman talked about" transport communicators, "says Bost.
" I started to get annoyed. She had missed a lot of work. "The woman relaxed the call and" we lost her in days, "she remembers.
She showed days later in bad shape – the police were called and eventually got psychiatric help.
"I would not have argued with his error. It's one of the things they teach you. Don't tell them it doesn't happen. "
Now Bost says she knows better.
" I would have kept her on the phone until I got help for her house. "
Another case ended in a tragedy. A new employee turned out to work with heroin -" staring into space "at work." "She voluntarily quit because she didn't want to take the drug test."  A few years later, she handed over, said Bost.
"I would probably have tried to get her some help. At that time I was freaked out. I didn't really know what to do, "Bost said. You just want it to go away. Instead of trying to help her. "
Save Life Now
One week after taking the first aid class for mental health, Bost had another chance to intervene and save a life.
She met an employee who had missed work a few times. She remembers asking
"Do you think you are depressed? Are you down? I noticed you missed some work. "
" "He began to tear up well and said," Sometimes I won't get out of bed. I may think I'm depressed or something. "
Bost asked if he had thought suicide – something, she says she would never have asked anyone about it before.
His answer was yes. Then she asked if he was at the time he planned it.
"He said no, and I knew there was no immediate emergency."
Bost says the employee is in counseling now and is taking antidepressants. He seems to be much better. "
" Before I ever went so far (with question marks). "
" I'm glad I asked. "
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Tina Bosts recalls of situations involving two employees.
To find a class in your area, go to mentalhealthfirstaid.org. Click" Find a class and post a zip code or city, all classes and certified instructors in your area. Most of the classes are free of charge through public grants and funds from the non-profit National Council for behavioral health.