Hood Seminary to host mental health first aid course

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

SALISBURY — First aid isn’t limited to bumps and bruises. Sometimes what needs fixing isn’t visible.

That’s why Hood Theological Seminary is hosting a mental health first aid training class on April 27, in conjunction with Carolina’s Healthcare System.

“It’s similar to first aid and CPR,” said the Rev. Dr. Lamont Foster, a counselor. “But we’re dealing not with the physical but the mental and the spiritual aspect of our health.”

The daylong course is free and open to Rowan County residents. Participants will earn certification as a mental health responder by the end of the class. Certification must be renewed every two years.

“So it’s the same kind of stuff as the American Red Cross first aid training, except it’s mental health training. It’s the exact same concept,” Foster said.

Foster wants it understood that the course will not give people license to be a counselor or to diagnose conditions but rather how to handle a crisis until professionals arrive.

“So trying to get that person help instead of sitting there and them suffering in silence,” he said.

Participants will learn how to recognize warning signs of a mental health problem, how to listen, calm and soothe and how to contact appropriate professional help. Foster said the course might be useful for businesses or pastors who want to help their employees and congregations.

“I think it’s something that would benefit all of us,” he said.

Foster also hopes the program will help erase much of the stigma that people with mental health problems often struggle with.

“We have to do some demystifying and rid ourselves of stigmatizing and derogatory terms for someone who’s going through a mental health crisis,” he said.

That stigma can prevent people from seeking help if they need it.

“Most people will sit here and suffer in silence because of the stigma of mental health issues,” Foster said.

All course materials will be provided free. People interested in attending will meet at 8 a.m. at the Aymer Center on Hood Theological Seminary’s campus, then split into groups.

The class will run until 5 p.m. At the end, participants will receive certificates as well as a list of local mental health professionals.

Space is limited. To participate, contact Foster at foster.lamont@gmail.com or 828-782-4560.

The class is free to all Rowan County residents. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.