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HANFORD — Kings County Behavioral Health is offering a training class to help navigate a potential mental illness-related crisis.

Identifying, understanding and being able to appropriately respond to signs of mental illness are important skills to possess in many professions and even in day-today life. A free training class offered by Kings County Behavioral Health will help equip those interested with such a skill set.

“Mental Health First Aid is designed raise awareness of what to look for in addition to provide access to resources if someone is needing them,” Kings County Behavioral Health Program Manager Fil Leanos said.

Leanos added that the one-day courses aren’t designed for clinicians, but is instead an introduction to identifying signs of mental illness while working in positions that come in contact with the general population.

“It’s designed for laymen, it’s designed for people who work in the front office. Anyone can use it,” he said.

Held annually, the first class in the series was held from 8 am. To 5 p.m. Thursday. The next class is scheduled for Oct. 11. Those interested can sign up online at https://qrgo.page.link/kLBZQ.

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The one-day, eight-hour course teaches a five-step action plan that can be applied in a variety of situations. At the conclusion of the course, students will have an idea of how to identify and react when they’re in contact with someone experiencing the symptoms of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, non-suicidal self-injury, acute psychosis, overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs or a reaction to a traumatic event.

“Around here, you see [mental illness] all the time walking down the street and the substance abuse that comes along with that. I just wanted to learn more about it and how I could help,” said Lisa Fagundes, a counselor with Champions, a local rehabilitation organization.

Fagundes and co-worker Gaby Gallegos attended Thursday’s event together.

Gallegos, a case worker, said that there’s an unfair stigma attached to homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse, as often those three things have a large Venn diagram overlap.

“We’re trying to change that. In the field, when we see someone like that, we see a survivor. With substance abuse, we’ve noticed the population tends to have other disorders, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.  

Kings County Beavioral Health is located at 460 Kings County Dr., Ste 1010, Hanford. For more information, call 559-852-2444.

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Contact the reporter at pbowman@hanfordsentinel.com

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