City of La Crosse educating all employees with Mental Health First Aid training

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LA CROSSE, Wi. (WEAU)-- Last year, 100 percent of the La Crosse Police Department completed Mental Health First Aid training.

Now, the city is looking to expand that knowledge to other areas.

"In 2020 our goal is to train all of the City of La Crosse staff in Mental Health First Aid," said Lt. Avrie Schott of the La Crosse Police Department.

They started Wednesday with an eight hour training session for all city department heads and leaders.

The training helps better understand mental health and the resources available for those suffering.

"Part of the class is to really understand that one in five adults may experience some type of mental health illness or mental health crisis within their life," said Chief Shawn Kudron of the La Crosse Police Department.

Two members of the police department have been certified as trainers and they plan to add two more instructors soon to meet demand.

The city believes it is important to train all employees, as it isn't just officers and firefighters who are interacting with the public on a daily basis.

"[It's also] our bus drivers, our librarians, our folks in City Hall that might be working a counter... some of those front line folks," said Mayor Tim Kabat of the City of La Crosse.

Those attending the session Wednesday say the training isn't just important for city employees, but for La Crosse as a whole.

"The training also gives you the knowledge and the understanding that we as a community can support one another," Schott said. "Everybody. whether you live with a mental illness or you know someone with a mental illness, can be a successful member of society as long as we work together."

The program helps to identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

With so many adults in the country affected, the training doesn't just educate on how to help others, but also yourself.

"There may be people that we work with and people that we train in the mental health curriculum that our living with mental illness themselves," Schott said.

"The nice thing with Mental Health First Aid is that there is a component of self care," Kudron said.

The training sessions will continue throughout 2020 to educate all full-time and permanent part-time city employees.

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