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WKU sees strong demand for 'Mental Health First Aid' training

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Christopher Lemercier / Unsplash
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Western Kentucky University is among colleges and organizations nationwide offering a training program called 'Mental Health First Aid.' Demand for the one-day, in-person training on June 2 surpassed registration limits.

The long-term stress of the pandemic and the trauma caused by the
tornadoes that ripped across Kentucky in December have forced mental health issues into public awareness.

WKU Director for the Center of Innovative Teaching and Learning, Marko
Dumancic, is the liaison for the Mental Health First Aid training.

“When it comes to mental health, I think we’re always worried about doing the right thing and making sure that we are recognizing symptoms accurately," said Dumancic. "And so this course is meant to give participants a sense of confidence and knowledge about these issues.”

Topics to be covered include panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, and substance abuse.

Dumancic said while the training will help faculty and staff respond to
warning signs among students, no one is immune to community stress and trauma.

“Not just for others, but also to be able to recognize those signs when we have issues. Whether it be anxiety or substance abuse. None of us is a fortress. None of us is an island," said Dumancic. "Self-care is super important and I think this may be an element of self-care.”

The funding for the training is from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, as part of the CARES Act. There is no cost to WKU faculty and staff.

The course had 50 people register in the first two days, but there’s a 30-person limit. So WKU may offer the training again in the future.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans. She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio, as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass.
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