Mental Health First Aid Course Targets College Addiction

By Anna David 02/16/12

A 12-hour course successfully helps resident advisers at 33 colleges to identify substance abuse and other mental health issues.

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While plenty of college students that do keg stands and suck down beer bongs aren’t alcoholics, some definitely are. Now a program sponsored by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare at 33 colleges in 2008 is helping resident advisers (RAs) to identify college kids with addiction and other mental health problems. The 12-hour Mental Health First Aid course—often split into two six-hour sessions—is in place at such colleges as the University of Missouri and San Jose State and is based on a program that was pioneered by a group in Australian colleges in 2001 (more than 45,000 people have since taken it in the US). “Students are taught how to recognize withdrawal, overdose and alcohol poisoning but also how to note the warning signs for abuse and dependence,” Susan Partain, the Director of Mental Health for State Operations at the National Council, tells The Fix. The authors of the reportt claim that participating students “reported increased confidence in recognizing and responding to developing mental health problems and crisis situations” and that over 30% of them “encounter people who may be having a mental illness or crisis.” Partain adds that the program also resulted in unfoseen benefits for the college kids who were involved: “People who went through it reported that their own feelings of happiness increased, perhaps because the more they became aware of how they could help others, the more they realized they could also help themselves," she says. “That wasn’t the primary intent of the course, but it certainly is great.”

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Anna David is the New York Times-bestselling author of multiple books about overcoming difficulties and coming out on the other side: the novels Party Girl (HarperCollins, 2007) and Bought (HarperCollins, 2009), the non-fiction books Reality Matters (HarperCollins, 2010), Falling for Me (HarperCollins, 2011), By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and True Tales of Lust and Love and the Kindle Singles Animal Attraction (Amazon, 2012) and They Like Me, They Really Like Me (Amazon, 2013). Find Anna on LinkedIn and Twitter.