SPOKANE, Wash. - We're all aware of the importance of knowing CPR or the signs of a heart attack, but what about mental health? It's something many of us face, but few know the best ways to help someone who is struggling. A program at Providence Sacred Heart works to change that for our entire community.

"We want to do something about it," said Providence's Community Health Investment Manager Sara Clements-Sampson. "The data shows we need to do something about it."

Clements-Sampson says the number of those suffering here in Spokane is going nowhere but up.

"We saw a more than 400 percent increase in our youth alone in suicides and suicide attempts," she said. "It's heartbreaking."

We all have a story, a spouse, a friend, or maybe it's even you who needs someone to talk to. For some, the pain is just too much.

"I had a best friend at 13-years-old who committed suicide," she said.

It's a heartache Spokane has seen play out again and again but as an organization, Providence is fighting back. 

"As a Providence St. Joseph health system, we've taken on mental health and part of that is getting our staff trained up on this Mental Health First Aid program," she said.

And it's not just their staff, but now you too.

"It's so much more prevalent than people realize," said Katherine Griessmann, "Both professionally and personally, I've seen such need to get awareness out there.

That's why Griessmann is so passionate about teaching the Mental Health First Aid course. The class is a form of public education that helps attendees know the warnings signs and risk factors for someone suffering from mental illness. It includes information on the best local resources available.

"We talk about how to assess for suicide or risk of harm and how to listen in a nonjudgmental way," she said. "(We discuss) how to give resources, information and hope."

It covers schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and more. Through various lessons and even role playing, it prepares attendees to help those in need simply cope.

"You're not going to leave with the ability to diagnose and treat, but you will leave with the ability to recognize signs and symptoms and how to start having a conversation with someone (who is struggling,)" she said.

And in turn the ability to say that right words, that could save a life.

The next course is April 27th. It is free, but attendees must register in advance. Grants and Providence's Community Benefit funds help keep the initiative going. For more information, reach out to https://washington.providence.org/locations-directory/s/sacred-heart-medical-center#llaid=6447

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