Anyone can go through first aid training to learn how to perform CPR in the event that an individual has a heart attack.
As mental health awareness continues to grow, Lighthouse Behavioral Wellness Centers is hoping to make mental health first aid training just as common.
On Saturday, July 20, the organization will be offering a free eight hour training course from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Christ Community Church in Ardmore, said course organizer Sharilyn Edlund.
“Most Oklahomans, at some point in their lifetime, will experience some type of mental health issue,” Edlund said. “That could be pretty mild to severe. And, unfortunately, a lot of people cannot recognize this and they don’t get help for sometimes up to 10 years after the first symptoms appear.”
The course is designed to provide people with the tools necessary to identify when someone might be struggling with a mental health or substance abuse problem, Edlund said. A five-step action plan then guides them through the process of reaching out and connecting individuals with the appropriate support and resources.
“There’s a lot of us out here who are natural helpers and want to help people if we think something is going on,” Edlund said. “But we’re also scared because we have a lot of misinformation about things or really don’t know the best ways to approach someone or the kind of resources we can direct them to.”

Anyone above the age of 18 can attend the class, Edlund said. However, individuals must register with Edlund beforehand at sedlund@mhsso.org or by calling 405-331-9969. Registration for the July 20 course closes at noon Friday, July 19.

Those who can’t attend the July 20 course can find more information about future courses by contacting Edlund at the aforementioned email or phone number.

“If someone is interested and can’t do it in this course, we’re trying to offer it relatively regularly at different times and places, so if they still get ahold of me I can put them down to let them know when another one is,” Edlund said.