In first aid, moments count.

You could argue that’s true when it comes to both mental and physical health.

“You learn how to help someone through a crisis,” said Stephanie Schiemann, director of the Mental Health First Aid program at the Jefferson Center for Mental Health.

Yes. There is a first aid program for mental health crises.

“It teaches folks about what mental health issues look like. What are the signs and symptoms, risk factors of mental health problems, substance abuse disorders,” Schiemann explains.

“There are even some parts of the class that are really hands on where you’re learning really what it is like to experience auditory hallucinations and things of that nature,” she said.

The eight-hour class also focuses on potentially awkward questions that may arise in a mental health crisis, like asking a potential patient if they’re considering harming themselves.

“That’s a big part of the training, saying those words and sort of de-mystifying and taking the fear out of them when you practice them in class,” she said.

“Sometimes the question you’re going to ask is are you thinking about harming yourself and that also can be a very scary question and I know sometimes there is a belief that when you ask someone about suicide, you are implanting an idea in their head…and we know that’s not the case,” she said.

Fifty thousand people have been trained in mental health first aid in Colorado. Most classes are offered for free.

For a list of available classes, click here.