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Suicide is a major public health concern and occurs at higher rates in rural areas than in urban areas, with Idaho, one of the least-densely populated states, ranking 6th in rate of suicides per year. Research has suggested that these increased rates of suicide are likely due to a lack of mental health resources, a stigmatized view of mental health treatment, and a limited mental health education. The Idaho FORM Project is a University of Idaho-based project run by Dr. Richardson and her team of undergraduate researchers. Our aim is to work with rural Idaho communities to improve mental health programming and resources in their community. One way we do this is through implementing and evaluating sustainable and evidence-based mental health literacy and suicide prevention programs such as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Question Persuade Refer (QPR), a suicide prevention program. We used a community-based framework for all our work, engaging members of the community in every step of the process. To engage community members, we host several Community Conversations around Rural Mental Health that are open to all community members and allow for discussion around issues related to mental health in the community and how we can work together to improve these. Dedicated community members have the opportunity to become certified MHFA and QPR instructors and offer these trainings free of charge to members of their community. As researchers, we are skilled at evaluating effectiveness of these programs and use data to help inform future programming.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that instructs its participants how to recognize risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns. The training supplies people with a base knowledge of how to provide the initial help and support when faced with someone in a mental health crisis or non-crisis situation. This can range from engaging someone experiencing and episode of psychosis to minor depression. The course finally directs participants how to deescalate situations and direct people to the correct resources, help and support. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions. The course uses hands on activities and leaves its participants with an easy to remember five step action plan to better handle mental health situations, and prevent potentially harmful mental health from ascending to crisis. 

Mental Health First Aid is the mental health equivalent of CPR, it removes the fear and hesitation of aiding someone that could use mental health support. Too often are people that are experiencing mental health difficulties isolated and ignored.  This course creates a population of individuals willing to have a conversation, and dispel the stigma. Certified Mental Health First Aiders can safely and responsibly address mental illness or difficulties and even save lives.

Learn more about the course content at:

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What is Question Persuade Refer?


QPR is a 1-hour mental health course that is set up to reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. It is a evidence-based, heavily tested, and peer-reviewed course created to save lives. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. 

QPR trains individuals how to communicate with someone experiencing suicidal ideation and deescalate the situation. By introducing a clear action plan, people can feel secure in handling crisis and prevent serious harm.

Learn more about the course content at:

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