A special course in Sudbury aims to teach people mental health first aid.

It's all about learning to recognize, respond and guide a person experiencing a mental health crisis. 

“Teaching people the signs and symptoms of mental health problems is key,” said Shirley Gilpin, mental health first aid instructor.

“It makes people a lot more comfortable in dealing with it and knowing there are things that you can say that can help a person.”

Jessica Suban is taking the course. She works with the Canadian Mental Health Association and collects feedback on the services it provides.

“I think in this particular organization we want to help people and without these skills, I think sometimes it's easy to be scared, to be able to engage with people who are in that state, so I want to be able to offer that support to them when they need it most,” said Suban, Canadian Mental Health Association quality improvement coordinator.

Gilpin said a big part of the course is helping people not be afraid to offer help.

“In order to reduce stigma, education is key, and making it more normal, so looking at it the way you would look at physical first aid, physical health problem,” she said.

Gilpin added reaching out and recognizing someone needs mental health first aid, along with being non-judgemental, are the first steps in providing help.