A healthy person includes a healthy mind

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Smoky River Adult Learning is providing the opportunity for residents to take a Mental Health First Aid Standard Course twice this winter.
On Dec. 1, in-person training will be provided from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the M.D. of Smoky River council chambers. Participants will also have the opportunity to take virtual training on Jan. 17-18 from 8:30 a.m. until noon, if in-person certification does not work for them.
Instructor Laurie Dagenais says it is a nine-hour course, with a two-hour self-directed module before attending the course, followed by seven-hour in-person training. The virtual course will be two sessions of three and a half hours online.
“Mental Health First Aid Standard is the know how to provide a person who may be experiencing a decline in their mental wellbeing or experiencing a mental health crisis,” says Dagenais.
“Taking the course, individuals will learn to recognize signs of when a person is facing a decline in their mental wellbeing and how to open conversations around people experiencing a decline in their mental well being.”
Dagenais says participants will be discussing available options for professional and other supports in the community. The course will also teach participants how to help individuals in crisis how to reach out to the support systems and how to assist individuals facing a mental health or substance use crisis.
Cost for the course is $150 per person.
“The Mental Health Commission of Canada states one in five Canadians will face a mental health problem within a year,” says Dagenais. “While we tend to be aware of physical illnesses, there tends to be less awareness about mental health and substance use problems, sometimes it is an invisible problem.”
She urges everyone to take the course if they are able. The self-directed module is mandatory to be completed before attending online or in-person training. Upon completion, participants receive a Certificate of Participation to certify they have completed Mental Health First Aid. The certificate is issued by Mental Health First Aid of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
“Fear and negative attitudes towards people living with mental health prevents people from seeking help and having support from people around them,” says Dagenais. “MHFA is offered to promote the quality of life of people living with mental health and substance use problems in their everyday lives. (The hope is) removing the stigma and providing respectful language around mental wellbeing.”
The course can also be privately booked for a group of eight or more for businesses or local partners in the community. Dagenais says it will be offered up to three times per year for the public.
Interested participants can call Laurie at (780) 837-4064 or email her at
laurie@smokyriveradultlearning.ca to register for the course.
“After participating in the Mental Health First Aid Standard Course, you obtain the knowledge and skills to feel confident to provide immediate support and guidance in a safe environment,” she says.
“As well as feeling comfortable having conversations about mental health related topics and providing guidance to help others seek out professional, community or other support strategies,” she adds.

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