"That one conversation might be the thing that changes their life."
Juliet Metzkers, CEO and co-founder of the Mental Health Global Network wants to provide everyone with mental health intervention training, a kind of first-aid training specifically designed to equip people with the tools necessary to assist during a mental health crisis.
"You might not realize that something that someone's saying is truly an indicator that they're going to take their own life, but it might be true that they are actually seriously contemplating something such as completing suicide," she said on Del-AWARE with Peter MacArthur. "You might have a conversation with them and you're like they sound kind of depressed and saying they're feeling really hopeless, or saying that they really see no sense for the future and I don't know if that means that they're considering taking their own life, but I'm going to tell them the appropriate tips that I learned from my intervention course and remind them of the things that they've overcome in the past and remind them of things that I know that they have coming up in the future."
Through instruction during an in-person, eight-hour course, Mental Health Global Network wants to train people to assist in a mental health emergency much like learning CPR can help someone in a physical health emergency, until appropriate professional help arrives or until the situation has subsided.
After losing her friend Connor Mullen to suicide, Metzkers wanted to find a way to inspire individuals to prioritize mental health on the same level they prioritize physical health.
"We really wanted to find a way to help people like Connor who are struggling with their mental health, who, like us, all deserve the chance to live out life to its fullest potential," she said. "Connor what one of those people who was always smiling and who was extremely popular, extremely well-liked around campus. He had so many friends, he was super involved, he was a straight-A student. I mean, really, just a brilliant kid. An amazing athlete. And so, if you look at someone like Connor, you never would have known that he was struggling if you weren't properly educated on picking up the signs and symptoms of severe mental illness or suicidal ideation."
Often, people dealing with mental health issues might feel stigmatized and possibly shameful about what they're experiencing, and, not wanting to shoulder loved ones with their difficulties, may attempt to hide their struggles. It's one of the largest contributing factors to the length of time it actually takes someone dealing with mental health issues to seek assistance.
"There's a huge stigma surrounding mental illness and this is an issue that we've seen for generations," Metzkers said. "Even though we're making progress with it every day, people aren't truly educated on mental health and mental illness. They don't understand it. It shouldn't be stigmatized. It doesn't mean that it's a weakness. But because of the way that it's been projected in society, that's how people see it, and so people feel that if they come forward with their mental health, they're going to be perceived as weak. But it doesn't mean that. It just means that they have a mental health ailment, just like you might have a physical health ailment. If you broke your arm, you go to the doctor right away. But if you were struggling with depression, the time that it takes from someone's to have an onset of mental illness and the time that it takes for them to actually get help is 11 years."
On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, Mental Health Global Network will be hosting one of their training sessions virtually at 3 p.m., with another coming up on Friday, June 5. They've trained more than 300 people in Delaware so far, many being students at the University of Delaware and Wilmington University, and Metzkers said it was important, now more than ever, that they continue to reach people for this kind of training.
"The thing about Mental Health First Aid and intervention training is that it is really for every single person, because all of us face some extent of a mental health struggle, especially during a pandemic like this," she said. "This course is really for everybody because you're taking a course because we want to help our best friend, but then signs and symptoms come up in the course and you kind of realize that you've been feeling some of these things, too. Not everybody is diagnosed or diagnoseable with mental illness, but everybody experiences some sort of mental health ailment. We all have had a cold or a cut or a broken bone at some point in our life. We're all going to experience mental health issues as well."
For more information on the Mental Health Global Network, visit MHGN.org.