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Mental health peer group started

According to Michele Holden, chair of the Local Advisory Council, one in four people have been affected by a mental health crisis either first or second hand, and the council hopes to draw on that experience.

The council is hoping to use a recently awarded $20,000 grant to get a peer support group going in Havre, where people suffering from mental health issues can turn for advice from others who have been there.

"I think mental health issues in our community are really important, " Holden said. "It costs money at the hospital. It costs money for the police to go out on calls.

"And I think it makes our community stronger, if you see the strength the community shows in dealing with a problem like this. "

People who volunteer to help out would be notified by either local law enforcement or health care providers, or contacted by a "warm-line, " a program based in Great Falls where callers experiencing a mental health crisis are connected to nearby and available counselors.

The council has about eight volunteers on board now, but hopes to at least double that number.

"We've got people who work full time, " Holden said. "We've got people who are retired.

"We're sensitive to the fact that people work. People have lives. People have jobs. If they can only do it once a month, that's fine. "

Volunteers will train in a few programs.

The first mentioned in an email from Holden is called ASIST.

"The ASIST workshop is for caregivers who want to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide, " Holden's email said. "Over one million caregivers have participated in this two-day, highly interactive, practical, practice-oriented workshop. "

The workshop will take place March 2-3. On March 2 the workshop starts at 6 p. m. and on March 3 at 9 a. m. at the HRDC building in the Activity Room.

Two other programs called WRAP and Mental Health First Aid will have training sessions set up in the spring.

"WRAP was established by Mary Ellen Copeland to develop, distribute and make available to everyone, the recovery and wellness skills and strategies, including the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, that she discovered through her research, " the email says.

Mental Health First Aid teaches volunteers how to recognize risk of personal harm and how to make appropriate referrals.

"The volunteers will learn about the resources in the community for mental health referrals and will teach to encourage appropriate professional help, " Holden's email explains. "There is a strong encouragement for Self-Help and Other Support Strategies as there are many ways individuals who may be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness can contribute to their own recovery and wellness. "

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Holden at 945-3187 or email her at [email protected].

Information can also be found at the council's monthly meeting, in the Havre-Hill County Library at 10:30 a. m. on the fourth Thursday of the month, including this Thursday.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Local Advisory Council can call Michele Holden at 945-3187 or email her at [email protected].

For more information, people can attend the the council's monthly meeting in the Havre-Hill County Library at 10:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month, including this Thursday.


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