BOSTON (CBS) – A relatively new program for helping in a mental health crisis is picking up steam across the country.

Mental Health First Aid courses have taught thousands of people in the past 7 years, an action plan for early intervention in a mental illness.

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“We walk [students] through how to assess, how to talk with somebody, how to approach and how to get professional support,” said Kathleen Bambrick, a instructor with South Shore Mental Health. “They actually leave with a nice tool kit of how to handle those scenarios.”

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The eight hour training is becoming more and more popular with churches, community groups, school departments and every day citizens curious about how to help someone in trouble.

“We’re not in the role of diagnosing, giving any medication or providing treatment,” Bambrick explained to WBZ-TV. “It’s almost like CPR or First Aid. You’re just an immediate responder at the scene until we can get other help involved and more support for folks.”

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Kathleen Bambrick, a instructor with South Shore Mental Health, gives a Mental Health First Aid course. (WBZ-TV)

Kathleen Bambrick, a instructor with South Shore Mental Health, gives a Mental Health First Aid course. (WBZ-TV)

Norwell Public Schools recently offered the training to their staff members.  The class was filled almost immediately, something Superintendent Michael Keegan thinks speaks to the level of commitment they have for their students.

“Our ultimate goal is to have students learn,” said Keegan.  “We know that if you’re struggling with social or emotional issues, in any way, it can interfere with that process.”

Mental Health First Aid is seen as a proactive way of destigmatizing treatment and training citizens to know when it’s time to get help.  It’s coordinated on a national level by the National Council for Behavioral Health.  They offer two courses, one tailored for children and another for adults.

Next Tuesday, December 15th, South Shore Mental Health is offering a class that is free to the public.  For more information, call (617)847-1950 or email

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More information on Mental Health First Aid and other trainers can be found online.