Killeen based non-profit Bring Everyone in the Zone is a place where many residents can receive food, clothing, school supplies, financial assistance and free peer-based counseling for local area veterans and their families.

Now the organization is connecting patrons with another mental-health resource.

With the help of a contract through Central County Services, Bring Everyone in the Zone conducted a mental health first-aid training session, free of charge, this week.

“Most people avoid people when they are having a mental health issue. People tend to not offer them any consideration, probably because they are afraid of them.” said Bring Everyone in the Zone Director Maureen Jouett during Wednesday’s training session in downtown Killeen.

Mental-health first-aid training gives people the tools for recognizing signs of mental illness and responding appropriately.

The training addressed adult mental health and youth mental health with additional focus added to veteran related issues. There is also a great deal of conversation between the instructor and participants. Often, personal experiences are brought up and used to provide examples of how to apply the training.

Veteran mental health also presents unique challenges.

“Thirty percent of active-duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment — approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing PTSD and major depression,” according to a Rand research study.

Youth mental health is uniquely crucial because adults often write off signs of youth mental health disorders and trauma as bad behavior.

The training is open to the public and nationally accredited through the National Council for Behavioral Health. The material can benefit professionals who work with at-risk populations such as teachers, probation officers, police officers and pastors.

Killeen Police Department Homeless Outreach employees are a critical addition to that list.

“You never know what somebody else is going through in their life,” said Kyle Moore, a Killeen police officer who works with the local homeless population.

He said it’s important to “provide the resources that are available” to people who are dealing with mental health issues.

KPD has officers with mental health certifications spread out in different units, but as of yet there is no full-time mental health unit.

Interest in the training isn’t limited to just Killeen. Residents from Copperas Cove, Harker Heights and Temple have also requested classes. Staff from Bring Everyone in the Zone have expressed interest in conducting another class in February.

Mental-health first-aid trainings have proven to be effective. At one of the locations that Jouett provides training, the Corpus Christi Army Depot, there have been recorded 54 suicide interventions and two homicide interventions.

“If we can stop one person from committing suicide, it makes my whole life worthwhile” said Jouett, a former Killeen mayor.

To learn more about the Mental Health First Aid course and resources available go to www.bringeveryoneinthezone.org.

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