EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Community members are learning about mental health issues in young people thanks to a free class taught at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals.
The “Youth Mental Health First Aid” class was instructed by Laura Baalrud, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals Community Health Director.
“We talk about how common mental health disorders are and how common they are to have the onset in youth,” Baalrud says. “If we can notice that someone might be struggling with their mental health early, they have the ability to get treatment and have a favorable outcome.”
The class teaches how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health in young people. Baalrud says common signs include a change in appearance, poor hygiene, sadness, crying and increased irritation and aggression. Baalrud says in kids, a lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy or isolation from family and friends can be signs of an underlying issue.
“We are teaching people how to identify what those signs are, and then we are teaching how to address youth who might be in some sort of crisis,” says Baalrud. “We are teaching people how to listen non-judgmentally.”
Participants also learn when it is important to seek professional help for youth.
Participants in the class included adults who often interact with young people ranging from teachers and nursing students to grandparents.
Baalrud says the public should be educated about signs and symptoms of mental health problems in the same way we are educated about physical health.
The class is taught several times a year at the hospitals and instructors also travel to workplaces to educate the public.