News Article Details

Course helps provide tools needed to address mental health signs, symptoms

Newton Daily News - 4/26/2019

April 26-- Apr. 26--Jasper County residents will have the opportunity to learn more about how to help those dealing with a mental illness with a free course being offered in Newton.

Stacy Haas with the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPH) will teach Mental Health First Aid from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 at the ISU Extension Conference Room, 550 N. Second Ave. W., in Newton. There will be an hour break for lunch.

Haas has been presenting this course for about three years. This will be the first time she brings the class to Newton.

"This will be the first of hopefully many Mental Health First Aid courses offered in the Jasper (County) community. Many individuals through the local school districts are also taking courses on Mental Health First Aid to best serve children in our community," Haas said.

The course will help those in attendance learn the identifying signs and symptoms in individuals with mental health needs. The course will focus on adults in the community.

"Attendees will learn through materials, videos and hands-on activities how best to engage in difficult conversations. Attendees will learn an action step, the most common mental health problems in our community and will collectively work throughout the day to reduce the stigma associated with mental health," Haas said.

Even though this is the first time the MCPH will bring its course to Jasper County, Central Iowa Community Services (CICS) CEO Jody Eaton said they try to have different training and courses like this at least two times a year.

Eaton said there are numerous courses both for youth and adult mental health education. Each course has its own topic and target audience. She said Wednesday's course is for the general public and will help identify the first signs of symptoms and the risk factors that could indicate a mental health issue is present in an individual.

"It gives you the sense that you'd be able to help. A lot of times you feel so helpless in those situations. It helps give people the confidence to know what to do and how to help," Eaton said.

Eaton said there will be information about the different resources available to people at the Wednesday's event. Eaton said courses like these are really important to change the perception about what people living with mental health issues really go through.

"It's really to help break the stigma," Eaton said.

Haas echoed Eaton's sentiments about the stigma surrounding those dealing with mental health issues.

"Stigma impacts and effects individuals seeking and accessing treatment. Recovery is possible for individuals with mental illness," she said.

Haas hopes the course will provide attendees a chance to learn how to connect with those dealing with a mental health issue and how to support those individuals. Haas' best advice for those wanting to help is to reach out and be willing to get involved in community efforts to provide help to those in need.

"You could be the individual to help your friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member. Be the difference we need in the community," Haas said.

To register for the Mental Health First Aid course, email Haas at The course is free and participants must be 18 years or older.

Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or


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