Elly Blum
Staff Writer

With the substantial increase in the number of students signing up for the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) class in the previous two years, Colorado College students have expressed great interest in improving their ability to respond to and handle medical emergencies.

Now, Colorado College will also use Half Block to train students in a new type of emergency response: mental health first aid.

Colorado College has worked hard for the past couple of years to try and reduce the stigma attached to mental illnesses. Director of Wellness Heather Horton will be offering the class, hoping to help students learn how to assist others with mental illnesses.

“It’s really akin to physical first aid,” Horton said. “The class is about learning to identify when someone might be in need. Just like if I was walking across the quad and saw someone with a big gash on their leg, I’m going to know what to do… It’s really the same sort of thing.”

The course is an eight-hour long certificate course with materials provided by Mental Health First Aid. Colorado College started the course about five years ago and has since been trying to spread it to other colleges.

In the course, students learn how to identify when someone might be in need and how to properly intervene. Some of the mental illnesses covered include depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and substance abuse disorders.

The course is offered a couple of times each year other than during Half Block.. This year, it will also be offered over second block break. The course is also offered for interested student organizations.

“There are folks on campus who can teach the course, so we can be more flexible,” Horton said.

Before, certified teachers in Denver had to come lead the course, but, by having instructors at CC, the number of times the course is offered can change depending on the demand.

There has been a lot of interest in the mental health course since Colorado College started offering it in the curriculum. Within the past two years, over 100 people on campus have been trained. Right now, about half of the 30 spots for the class being offered over second block break are full.

At CC, learning about mental health issues doesn’t stop with this program. Many student organizations, such as GROW and Active Minds, focus their work on mental illnesses. The college is also expecting to have a speaker in November talk about Mental Health awareness.

“Ultimately, we really want everyone on campus to have a basic understanding of what mental health issues might look like,” Horton said. “One of the things that we’ve always been proud of is the psychological services offered through the mental health center. Recently, it has become a priority to engage the community, and get everyone talking about these issues.”

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