Mental health first aid sessions teach members how to help others

Cassy Tweed | Graphic Courtesy

The sessions will explain the signs of mental health concerns

A recent study in 2020 revealed that out of 30,725 undergraduate students from nine different research universities, 35% of them had major depressive disorder and 39% tested positive for generalized anxiety disorder. Another 15,346 graduate and professional students were also examined and the results showed that 32% were positive for major depressive disorder and 39% for generalized anxiety disorder, according to

People who are suffering from these disorders often do not recognize the signs themselves and miss out on the help that they may need.

This year, North Dakota State University’s Counseling Center is offering Mini-Mental Health First Aid training sessions via Zoom throughout the school year. The purpose is to educate NDSU members on the basics of how to help someone that suffers from anxiety, depression and/or substance abuse until they are referred to a professional.

This training, like regular First Aid or CPR, is designed to teach people the skills and techniques to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to recognize and respond to warning signs of a specific illness.

“The main goal for the session is to have attendees learn about what mental health concerns are, how to recognize them and how to help those with concerns get the help they need,” Bill Burns, the Director of the NDSU Counseling Center said.

“[People who are trained] will be able to recognize signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and problems that can lead to suicidal ideation and self-harm,” Burns said. “Also, that they will know how to refer those with concerns to appropriate help.”

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, those who seek out certification from this course will have to wait until a later date; however, there will be sessions before the fall semester ends to learn more information about helping others as the holiday season approaches.

“We deemed the mini sessions important as it is leading up to the holiday season, and some families will no doubt have to spend their holidays apart, possibly for the first time ever, something that can weigh heavily on many people,” Cohl Ringler, a student senator who works with Burns said.

“And so by offering this, I hope to be able to mitigate some of the stress that some families may be seeing these next two months.”

Typically, an NDSU member would attend an eight hour, in-person training sessions that happen a few times a year and receive a certification for the course. However, because the pandemic has challenged the way events are held and proper training over Zoom can be difficult, official certification will have to be postponed. Attending the Mini-Mental Health First Aid sessions will provide a basic understanding of the material and cover the most important parts of MHFA training.

“With social distancing and quarantine becoming [evermore] prominent in Fargo, as well as around the U.S., I thought we should at least offer something to help the student body be more prepared to help others, especially with the world we are living in currently,” Ringler said.

Educating others to recognize signs of people who may be suffering is a giant step towards decreasing depression, anxiety and substance abuse rates. Learning how to approach a sensitive subject with someone who is in need of serious help could end up saving their life.

The sessions will be from 5-7 p.m. on Nov. 18, Nov. 30 and Dec. 2. Student Government will be sharing a flyer on their social media page and plan to put it on the video screens in Residence Life.

For more information, students can visit NDSU’s Counseling Center page.

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