Catholic Charities to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid training in Lansing March 28

Allamakee County part of national initiative focused on increasing mental health literacy

Anyone who knows a young person who could be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse problem can learn an action plan to help by getting trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid. Catholic Charities is offering a Youth Mental Health First Aid training Saturday, March 28 in Lansing.

This eight-hour training gives adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to adolescents (ages 12-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. The training March 28 will be from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Kerndt Brothers Community Center located on Main Street in Lansing. To register for the training, contact Lori Eastwood at 563-382-1231 or

One in five Americans has a mental illness, but many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and substance use problems can be difficult to detect. For friends and family members, it can be hard to know when and how to step in. As a result, those in need of mental health services often do not get them until it is too late.

Just as CPR helps even those without clinical training assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support.

Inspired by the belief that marriage and families are at the core of social structure, Catholic Charities provides professional counseling for marriages, families, individuals and children experiencing various social, emotional and interpersonal struggles. The most local Catholic Charities office is located at St. Benedict’s Parish, 307 West Main Street in Decorah.

The Allamakee County Community Foundation is sponsoring the Youth Mental Health First Aid training March 28 with a grant provided to Catholic Charities. There is no cost for participants to attend the training.

Lori Eastwood, a Licensed Independent Social Worker with Catholic Charities for 15 years, became certified as a Mental Health First Aid trainer in 2018. To date, Catholic Charities has trained 298 individuals in adult and youth Mental Health First Aid.

Eastwood states, “Through this program, we hope to take the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems, and increase confidence by giving people the skills and tools to respond and assist a person who is experiencing difficulties.”

In just ten years, Mental Health First Aid has become a full-blown movement in the United States - more than one million people are certified Mental Health First Aiders, and that number is growing every day.

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