My experience with Mental Health First Aid Training

My experience with Mental Health First Aid Training

As the platform and service I choose to promote as Miss Capital City this year is Saving Lives: Preventing Suicide in our Youth and Young Adults. I have always been interested in suicide and mental health, but as a college student, wanted to learn more about what I can do to help others. I enrolled in a Mental Health First Aid training course to get my certification and learn how to help someone undergoing a mental health crisis. The course is a national program available in communities across the country, and teaches the same material everywhere.  I want to explain what the process was like, who should take the course, and how you can become Mental Health First Aid certified.

How It Works

The course is a one day, eight hour event that covers topics such as depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders. While eight hours might seem like a large commitment, you really do need that much time to learn about these topics, go through the exercises, and walk away prepared. There are snacks, group activities, and simulations that make it fun! A facilitator will walk you through different presentations, referring to sections of the Mental Health First Aid manual you receive as part of the course. There is always time to stop for questions and dive deeper into certain topics. I really liked how the facilitator gave so much flexibility to the class to guide certain conversations and expectations for how the day would go.

At the end of the course there is a short (and fairly easy) exam. If you pass, you will receive your Mental Health First Aid Certification that is good for three years. After that, you will need to take another course to refresh your skills!

Who Should be Certified

Anyone and everyone should be certified! You never know when you will find yourself in a situation where someone around you is going through a mental health crisis. I especially recommend it for educators and professionals who work with kids, teens, and families. There is also a course specifically for kids! People of all backgrounds and ages can benefit from becoming mental health first aid certified. 

How to Sign Up 

The Speedy Foundation offers MHFA courses and the next ones are at Boise State University on Oct. 23. Sign up here:  or search for a course near you:

Students receive 40% off the registration fee by entering the code: StudentWSCOS2018

Taking this course was such an educational and rewarding experience! Now I feel prepared to help in a variety of situations, and have a new perspective on mental health.

The Easiest Ways To Beat Stress During Family Gatherings

The Easiest Ways To Beat Stress During Family Gatherings

Family gatherings, while wonderful, can be a difficult time to get through if you’ve recently entered addiction recovery; they come with so many responsibilities, worries, and stresses, and there’s often so little time to do anything else that many of us neglect our own health and well-being. This can have detrimental impacts on your sobriety, so it’s important to reach out for help when you need it.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to beat stress and maintain your sober status no matter what has brought your family together; with a little planning and preparation, you can ensure your time with your loved ones is fun-filled and substance-free. Here are a few of the best tips for doing just that.

Boost your mood

Family events are full of memory-making and laughter, but they can also be difficult for many people when stress or depression set in. Be proactive and take charge where your mood is concerned by stepping outside and soaking up some vitamin D, which can help lift your spirits. Even better, take a half hour every day to get in some exercise. Taking a brisk walk around the block will get your heart rate up and boost your self-esteem, and it can also help motivate you when your days are long and full.

10 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health in 2017

10 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health in 2017

You’re constantly bombarded with media telling you how you can get fit, eat better, and improve your physical health — but what about your mental health? Mental health is just as ( if not more) important than physical health, but it tends to fall by the wayside when dreaming up self-improvement to-do lists. Make mental health a priority in 2017 by incorporating these 10 habits into your plans for the new year.

1. Stop taking failure personally

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably set high goals and then beat yourself up for not meeting them. Instead of kicking yourself while you’re down, practice reframing failures as learning opportunities. After all, you’ll never become good at something if you don’t give yourself a chance to be bad at it first.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices like meditation are great for the brain. Mindfulness exercises release stress, improve focus, enhance your mood, and help your mind rid itself of harmful thoughts. Keeping your home free of clutter can go a long way in helping you accomplish this as well.

3. Learn to Disconnect

Constantly browsing social media can wreak havoc on your mental health. Compulsively scrolling through Facebook and Instagram can make you less satisfied with your own life as you compare your average day to the carefully-curated photos and statuses of other people’s lives.

On the Topic of Youth Suicide in Utah

On the Topic of Youth Suicide in Utah

How to curb Utah’s teen-suicide rate? Hatch-convened roundtable says kids needs access to mental-health services

By Alex Stuckey | The Salt Lake Tribune

Republican state Sen. Daniel Thatcher was 11 years old when he lost his first classmate to suicide. He was 16 when he lost his close friend.

That's why, he says, it's so important to drop the stigma and talk about suicide.

"If you talk to someone, they live," Thatcher, from West Valley City, said. "If you connect them to support, they live."

Hatch convenes suicide-prevention conference

By Lois M. Collins & Lauren Fields | Deseret News

“We’ve made more progress in the last five years than in the 20 years before,” Dr. Doug Gray, a psychiatrist, professor and suicidologist at the University of Utah, told the audience at the roundtable, held at East High in Salt Lake City.

Hatch commented that the roundtable discussion could literally save lives and noted that its participants involved some of the top suicide prevention specialists in the country.

Said Hudnall, “Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole community to save a child.”

The Lone Peak story: What you didn't know about affluence and teen suicide

By Jesse Hyde | Deseret News

“Oftentimes kids feel like they’re alone, that they’re the only ones experiencing this,” Flett said. “Talk to your kids about times you’ve made a mistake and felt ashamed and embarrassed. Talk to them about how famous people struggled before achieving something. If kids are feeling anxious or depressed, that’s pretty normal. It’s helpful to realize it’s not them, it’s the challenges and pressures of this time of life, and they’ll be just fine.”

“I think our school has a perfection problem,” a junior who plays lacrosse said.

“There are a lot of ultimatums here. Either you’re going to get into BYU or you’re going to be homeless. You’ve got to be varsity by your sophomore year, or you’re not athletic. There’s no gray area, no room for failure.”

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 3

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 3

MASSACHUSETTS: Flying Away from Stigma: Logan Exhibit Displays Stories of Mental Illness

The Boston Globe
A new exhibit at Boston's Logan Airport aims to reduce the negative bias associated with mental illness by sharing the images and stories of those who have been intimately affected by it. A collaboration between the psychiatric institution McLean Hospital and several mental health organizations, "Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life" displays photographs and interviews with people who have experienced a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide. Participants, who represent a range of sociodemographic backgrounds, seek to convey the challenges of living with mental illness, but also the opportunities for healing and resilience. Sean Shinnock, who shares his story of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, said, "I hope that somebody who may be hurting gets a little solace, that they know they're not alone." 

Connect this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, holidays and catch ups can be a time to relax and enjoy being with friends and family, but it can also be a time when feelings of loneliness, personal struggles, conflict and loss surface and make us feel vulnerable. Leading into the festive season, we're asking everyone to take one action every day to help create a more connected world.

Watch this video to hear how R U OK? Ambassador and media personality Ita Buttrose is getting involved by sharing her Christmas dinner with someone who doesn't have anywhere to go.

What can you do?

  • Lend your ears to someone over a cup of tea
  • Catch up with someone you’ve been meaning to see
  • Share a meal with a friend or someone in need.
  • More ideas here.

A fun gift with serious impact

Check out The Five Minute Journal, your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Side effects may include: increased happiness, better relationships, and becoming more optimistic. You’ve been warned.
Order before soon to guarantee delivery by Christmas.

Great Hearts

Great Hearts

The Speedy Foundation has joined forces with the Great Hearts Community, which helps people live the giving life they envision. 

Often in our high-tech, fast paced world, it’s hard to find the time to do what matters most to us. As part of the community, you’ll have access to the resources needed for daily giving, all in one place. Explore ways in which you may want to give. Be inspired and inspire others. Come together with other great hearted people and make a difference today.

We encourage you to take a few moments to explore the site and find organizations that speak to your heart. While you're there, you can also help us out by participating in the 2nd Giver’s Choice Award. A sponsor has donated $5,000 to be given to the organizations that receives the most votes of support between now and the end of the year.


From Walking to Swimming: How To Cope With Bipolar Disorder Using Physical Fitness

From Walking to Swimming: How To Cope With Bipolar Disorder Using Physical Fitness

Bipolar disorder affects nearly six million adults in the U.S., and many studies have been done in an effort to try and pinpoint where it begins and why. It’s not so easy to understand, however, and it is even harder to study in young people because the symptoms sometimes mimic natural emotional changes that come with growing up.

For those who are living with bipolar disorder, medication is one option for minimizing the symptoms. These can include manic episodes and feelings of elation as well as drawn-out low periods of depression, and the sharp shift between those two extremes can be frightening, exhausting, and tiresome. Often, a mixture of medication and therapy work wonders for sufferers, but in some cases, alternative therapy can also be of help. One such method is exercise.

It’s long been understood that getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily can help keep you healthy in more ways than one; physical activity releases chemicals in the brain that help you feel happy, and exercise is often prescribed as a stress reliever.

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 2

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 2

How important is social connectivity to health?

Social connectivity – spending time with friends and family, taking part in group activities or having a sense of community – may be among the most important predictors of health.

Study upon study shows the myriad ways human connection plays a valuable role in positively supporting a person’s physical and mental health. 

Having strong social ties has been shown to:

  • Dramatically lower rates of disease and premature death. Those who lacked supportive relationships had a fourfold increased risk of dying six months after open heart surgery.
  • Improve our long-term happiness. People’s happiness correlates to the happiness of others with whom they are connected – and people who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy in the future.
  • Decrease stress during major life transitions. Higher levels of happiness and optimism were associated with lower levels of stress and greater increases in perceived social support during life transitions.
  • Support recovery. One study showed that higher scores on the Recovery Assessment Scale were related to both social support as well as engagement in activities.

And, the quality of our social networks has a lifetime impact on well-being as we age. 

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 1

Mental Health Resource Roundup, Installment 1

On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act remarking that "those of us called upon to lead this country have a duty" to stand by the families and communities struggling with addiction. The significant funding included in the bill will help fight the ongoing opioid crisis, authorizing $1 billion in grants to states over the next two years. The National Council applauds Congress for the addiction and mental health provisions that will support community behavioral health providers in expanding access and looks to Congress to act quickly and include full funding for these provisions in the FY2017 appropriations package.

Read the National Council’s full statement on the signing and learn more about the 21st Century Cures Act on the Capitol Connector Blog.