Mental Health First Aid comes to Butler University

Photo courtesy of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

CASSANDRA STEC | STAFF REPORTER | cmstec@butler.edu

This semester, Butler University invited Mental Health First Aid on to campus. The goal is to teach students, faculty and staff how to identify, understand and respond to mental illnesses as well as substance disorders. 

Mental Health First Aid was founded by Australian educators Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm in 2001. Mental Health First Aid was developed with help from individuals who have experienced mental illness or addiction, with the goal to make training regarding mental health and addiction as common as CPR and First Aid trainings. 

The Mental Health First Aid course focuses on topics regarding depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis and substance abuse related disorders. Through a five step action plan — the ALGEE Action Plan — participants are taught how to help someone through a panic attack, how to engage with someone who is suicidal and how to assist someone who has overdosed.

Due to the importance of mental health awareness on campus, several students have voiced their support of Mental Health First Aid’s desire to make Butler safer.  

Michelle Reed, a sophomore psychology and sociology major, said the trainings resonates strongly with millennial and Generation Z students regarding their focus on mental health.

“I think that’s exactly the kind of thing any university or even high school needs,” Reed said. “Mental health is on the rise, both in terms of people who cope with various mental illnesses and in terms of the attention it gets, but it still isn’t addressed nearly enough. Programs like this are a good step forward.”

Madison Millard, a junior psychology and french major, was required to attend the training due to her position as a Community Assistant on campus.

“I think there is a need for this training on campus; the training discusses different misconceptions about mental illness which I believe everybody should learn about,” Millard said. “It is also good information to know to be able to be a resource and support to friends or other students on campus.” 

However, there are also students who have expressed frustrations towards Butler’s implementation and advertising of the training sessions. January’s training sessions were cancelled due to a lack of participants. 

Nathan Gray, a sophomore psychology and criminology major, said the trainings are a good idea, but is skeptical of its execution on campus. 

“I think that Butler going ahead and putting something like this together shows initiative. Something should be done, and I am unsure if this is the answer, but I would like to say it is definitely worth a try,” Gray said. “I caution just anyone having the power to respond because it can be sensitive for some people to talk about, something that would probably require more training than what is being offered.”

Kathleen McConnaghy, a senior recording industries studies major, thinks the trainings are a good idea, however, disagrees with their implementation.

“I just think that it’s a little annoying that the training times are at such weird times of the week,” McConnaghy said. “There aren’t any on weekends only, which I would’ve liked so I could’ve participated in it.”

There are trainings offered once a month from January through April for the rest of the semester. Each training is eight hours divided between two days. Sign ups can be found through the Butler website

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