By Rachel Stark 
BELLEVILLE – More health professionals now know the signs of a person experiencing a mental health crisis after attending St. Lawrence’s Mental Health First-Aid sessions.
Kelli Pierman, a support manager for Bayshore Home Health , said she attended the event so she would best know how to help other employees.
“We have an open-door policy and if they ever have any questions or concerns with their jobs, they need to come and talk to us about why they can’t do their job. I just want to be as prepared as I can to be able to help if it is a mental health illness they have,” she said.
The sessions held Dec. 1 – 2 taught how to spot mental health problems, how they happen, and how to deal with them. The session started out with information on common first-aid and risk factors for depression, that lead into anxiety disorders, psychosis, and panic attacks the second day.
The ten people with an education in health said they all attended to learn about mental health causes and become better at helping people in their jobs who suffer from a mental illness problem.
LauraLee Barkley, speaker for St. Lawrence’s Corporate Learning and Performance Improvement Organization, said she hopes to see more students in programs such as nursing to attend the event in the future.
“Mental health has become a big topic over the past few years, so people know about it, but they still need to learn how to properly deal with it,” she said.
Lori Veltkalp, mental health speaker for St Lawrence, said knowing the first signs of a mental health problem is more important than most people think.
“If we don’t talk about it, that stigma is always going to be there. The only way people will come forward right away to get help is if we can remove that stigma,” she said.
She added that like physical illness, if not treated at the start, the mental illness will become worse.
Attendees who completed the workshop received a certificate for learning how to recognize each type of mental illness.