AspenPointe Offers Mental Health First Aid Training

    Posted 03/15/2013

    Before you read any further, take a look around you. One in four adults experience a mental health disorder each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, yet most people have no idea how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a person in mental distress.

    Fortunately, there’s help. Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders, according to the MHFA Web site (
    AspenPointe offers free MHFA classes monthly for anyone interested in learning more about how to recognize signs of mental illness and what resources are available in the community.
    “Mental Health First Aid is an award-winning training program for members of the public with little-to-no knowledge of mental health issues,” said AspenPointe’s Sue Readnour. “It teaches people how to support someone in a mental health crisis situation and provides the skills to help recognize signs in someone who might be developing a mental disorder.”
    Readnour is AspenPointe’s lead MHFA instructor, and not only teaches, but she’s also responsible for scheduling classes, arranging instructors, and working with other local agencies to offer training, or facilitate classes.
    The 12-hour training is divided into two six-hour days. Students who attend the entire 12-hour course are certified in MHFA.
    “Often, people don’t realize they have a mental health issue and it takes someone close to them to recognize there is a problem and convince them to seek treatment,” Readnour said. “We’re working hard to help dispel the stigma often associated with mental health. A person doesn’t wake up and decide to have a mental health problem. When you have a physical disease, you go see a doctor. When you have a mental illness, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek out a mental health specialist.”
    Topics discussed during the training include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, nonsuicidal self-injury and substance use disorders.
    Classes are open to anyone, and Readnour says she’s taught MHFA to people ranging from police and firemen to military spouses and concerned parents.
    “We’re not trying to teach people to be therapists,” Readnour said. “We want to help people recognize signs of mental health crisis and the steps to take to help facilitate treatment. A lot of mental illness issues begin in adolescence, so the earlier you can recognize the signs and symptoms, the better.”
    Earlier this year, a national bipartisan coalition introduced legislation to expand mental health first aid training and increase the effectiveness of mental health care across America.
    “Statistically, people with mental health conditions are far more likely to be the victim of a crime, rather than a perpetrator of one,” Readnour said. “But the more people who are trained to recognize mental health distress, the better chance we have of preventing someone from harming themselves or others.”
    AspenPointe started offering MHFA classes in 2009, and has trained nearly 800 people in the region, so far. Class schedules are available on the AspenPointe website, at
    Mental Health First Aid training is free and open to the public, but you MUST pre-register by contacting, or by calling 572-6100. A manual and lunch is provided.
    To find an MHFA course in your area, visit
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    AspenPointe has empowered clients, enriched lives and embraced purpose through behavioral health services, counseling services, career services, substance abuse treatment, employment, education, housing, jail diversion/reintegration and care management.

    One of the largest nonprofits in Colorado Springs, AspenPointe traces its roots back to 1875 when we were called the Springs Relief Society. That organization, which delivered coal, lumber and clothing to the needy, was the genesis of what today is a comprehensive and integrated system of care that addresses the overall wellness of each client whether they need behavioral health services, counseling services or career services.

    We have 12 organizations that serve more than 30,000 individuals and families each year through behavioral health services, counseling services, career services, education, housing, jail diversion/reintegration, telephonic wellness and care management.

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