After 18 years, today is my last day working at the Standard Journal. I thought about writing a farewell column sharing my memories of living and working in the upper valley for over 18 years. But I feel this space would be better used reminding people of the very important issue of mental health.
I wrote a column on the subject over a year ago. This is still a problem in our communities. I have asked that it be reprinted today as my farewell column. It is my hope, that it will start the conversation we need to have to help people and maybe save someone’s life.
Originally Published on June 19, 2018:
Over the last few years, mental health has become a subject that has received more media attention, but we still don’t make it an important enough issue.
Mental Health and Suicide are issues nobody wants to talk about. It can be uncomfortable, scary and sad. Yet it can also be the most important subject you can learn and talk about.
Suicide has gotten attention in the national news over the past few years after a few well-known celebrities completed suicide. It is shocking and sad, but the fact is, suicide is touching more lives than ever. Sadly, in Idaho and the Upper Valley, the trend is on the rise. We can stop it from growing, but we must act. We need to talk about it and work together to change this terrible trend. To begin with, we all need to become educated.
In September of 2017, I had the opportunity to attend one of the Madison Cares Youth Mental Health First Aid classes, and I believe it was the most important eight hours of my year. I sat in a classroom with teachers, Brigham Young University-Idaho students, bus drivers, school aides and community members. I am sure everyone had better things to do on a Saturday and we all had different reasons for being there.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid class is an eight-hour course that teaches how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health challenge.
This class gives the attendee an opportunity to better understand what mental health is, what some of the common diagnoses are and how to respond to youth or adults who might be experiencing a crisis. It also reduces the misconception many people may have about mental health.
At some point, we will all need to ask for help during our lives. Each one of us who attended the class came away with important knowledge and tools that made us better prepared and made us ready to provide appropriate support and resources for those that may need it.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid class will help you make a difference in someone’s life. I encourage every parent, LDS Stake President, Bishop, every church pastor, minister, young men’s and women’s leader, scout leader, in fact, every adult, to take this class. If we had a community full of people trained in Mental Health First Aid that knew how to help someone, can you imagine how this could improve our communities? It would make us a more accepting community, and I believe it could save more lives than we would ever know.
Right now, while you read this, someone in the Upper Valley is thinking about suicide or struggling with a mental health issue. We can just keep reading headlines on the news and see our friends and neighbors struggle and die, or we can help each other. We can become the solution to this problem. But we must act. First, never be afraid to reach out and ask someone if they need help. Second, go to www.mymadisoncares.com and learn more about the Mental Health First Aid classes and other community resources they offer.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help by calling or texting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357 or call the National suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Please add these numbers to your contacts in your phone, write them down and carry them with you in your wallet.