This year, my field placement is at Duke Movement Disorders Clinic. At the clinic we see patients who have Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease. Mental health conditions often occur as a result of these illnesses (especially depression and anxiety). To better serve my patients, my field supervisors sent me to a mental health first aid training this week. The goals of mental health first aid training are twofold; to teach people how to respond in a mental health emergency and to offer nonjudgmental support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress. The course does a nice job going over signs, symptoms and common misconceptions of depression, anxiety, suicidality, psychosis, and substance abuse. It also helps you formulate an action plan that is appropriate, nonjudgmental, and supportive to the person experiencing a crisis.
I finished the course today (yay!) and am so grateful that I had this experience. The class was taught by a psychologist and an EMS paramedic. As an MSW student, it was super cool to see members of the community, medical professionals, and mental health professionals coming together to learn skills to help people in need of mental health first aid.
Taking this training (for free) highlights one of my favorite things about the school of social work. There are SO many outside trainings, seminars, conferences, and resources available to you (many of them free) to attend and expand your knowledge, experience, and resume!