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Originally published: December 2, 2022

United Way of the Midlands kicks off mental health first aid training campaign

OMAHA, Neb. (KPTM) – United Way of the Midlands (UWM) is on a mission to help reduce mental health challenges in the metro.

“A lot of times that’s a tough subject and folks won’t know what to say, or how to help an individual that’s struggling- and so this gives you the tools,” said Shawna Forsberg, President & CEO of UWM.

They’ve initiated a new campaign to raise awareness of a new training program that is now available to the public- for free.

The program aims to help people notice the signs of mental health challenges, and what steps to take next.

Over 3 million Americans have been certified through the program.

“Everyone that’s taken the training has really felt it’s been valuable, and they walk out feeling more prepared, should they need to address this issue with a friend or colleague,” Forsberg explained.

The training focuses on preventative measures.

Some skills you can expect from the program are- assessing for risk of harm or suicide, listening unjudgementally, and helping to point individuals in the right direction if they need help.

“The earlier that you can help someone, the earlier in their journey that you can get them assistance, the better the outcome’s going to be for that person,” Forsberg added.

On top of raising awareness for the training, the organization would like to see talk about mental health normalized, saying that there is still a stigma when it comes to discussing the topic.

Anyone can sign up for the training.

From families to small organizations, and even large businesses.

By the end of next year, UWM would like to see 600 people trained in the program- and 3,000 over the next three years.

According to the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment, 1 in 3 adults suffer from some form of mental illness in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro.

To add to that, UWM says that Nebraska is ranked in the bottom half of all 50 states when it comes to mental health access.

You can sign up for the training by visiting their website or calling 211.

Read the original article here.