Mental Health First Aid: addressing Montana's mental health cris - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Mental Health First Aid: addressing Montana's mental health crisis

Posted: Updated:

Rates for suicide, depression and overall mental health in the Rocky Mountain States are some of the worst in the country.

One in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness.  That can be anything from schizophrenia to severe depression. A new program is hoping to teach people how to treat mental health issues just the way you'd be able to treat a friend for a bee sting.

Experts say there are three main reasons the suicide rate is so high in the region.

“There is not enough professional help available, access to firearms, people are watching elevation as a contributing factor,” says Jen Preble.

Travis Emery was fighting a problem he didn’t even know existed in his own mind. As a diagnosed schizophrenic he now uses his time to help others who battle mental health issues.

He says many don’t realize the battles some people are facing.

“I didn't believe that I was hallucinating what I thought was a reality. it was a different phenomenon. If I could really explain schizophrenia and the voices phenomenon in a nutshell, just imagine something no one can see, hear, feel, or taste,” says Travis Emery.

It is similar phenomena that drove Michelle Gentry to the breaking point.

At first look Gentry is like many other women. She owns a business and helps out at a friend's restaurant. But you can see the scars from a much darker time.

“They blew off my shoulder,” says Gentry.

Gentry, like 25 million Americans, suffers from depression.

"It’s just something that's been in my life all my life... and I can't help that."

In October of 2013, she was at her worst. She had taken many sleeping pills and was threatening to take her own life.

When a friend reached out for help, police sent swat teams. Michelle was alone in her home with a handgun.

"I was at a bad place," says Gentry.

 After four hours of negotiations, she came out with the weapon.

 Police perceived her as a threat and fired 15 rounds, and she was hit twice.

"I just remember going down and everything went black."

Emma Kerr Carpenter is the community education coordinator for youth dynamics, an organization that focuses on youth in crisis.

"A person in a mental health crisis is normally not a danger to other people,” says Kerr Carpenter.

She says things often get worse for the mentally ill when police get involved. It's part of why she's teaching this course on mental health first aid.

"The hope with this course is that we can intervene earlier."

Much like first aid teaches basic medical stabilization skills like how to build a tourniquet or splint a leg, mental health first aid trains you to stabilize someone having mental health issues.

The basic strategy follows the acronym ALGEE. Which stands for "assess, listen, give reassurance and encourage the friend to seek professional self-help. Kerr Carpenter says listening is the most important.

"Listen with empathy and non judgmentally," says Kerr Carpenter.

These are skills Gentry says could have prevented her from being shot. The shooting left her shoulder badly damaged and gave her a drop foot-- but years later-- she says things are looking better.

"Now I've got the right medication, so life is good for me for the first time in 57 years.

We did speak to the police involved in the Michelle Gentry case. They say their goal is to resolve every crisis situation without anyone getting hurt.

Anyone can sign up for a mental health first aid class. Here is the Link.

Https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/take-a-course/

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo or wallaby

    Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo or wallaby

    Thursday, June 21 2018 7:02 PM EDT2018-06-21 23:02:48 GMT
    kangaroo (Wikimedia Commons)kangaroo (Wikimedia Commons)

    UPDATE: Sources now indicate that the animal may actually have been an escaped wallaby from a petting zoo on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

    UPDATE: Sources now indicate that the animal may actually have been an escaped wallaby from a petting zoo on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

  • Missouri River finally reaches peak in Great Falls

    Missouri River finally reaches peak in Great Falls

    Thursday, June 21 2018 8:51 PM EDT2018-06-22 00:51:46 GMT
    Thursday, June 21 2018 8:51 PM EDT2018-06-22 00:51:46 GMT
    Forecasters in Great Falls said there is more precipitation headed our way. The National Weather Service is tracking slow-moving thunderstorms that could produce heavy rains and possibly flash flooding. According to the City of Great Falls & Cascade County Emergency Operations Center, the Missouri River reached it's peak around 5:00 Thursday evening and should start receding sometime within the next 12 hours. Forecasters added that we still could see minor flooding for another da...
    Forecasters in Great Falls said there is more precipitation headed our way. The National Weather Service is tracking slow-moving thunderstorms that could produce heavy rains and possibly flash flooding. According to the City of Great Falls & Cascade County Emergency Operations Center, the Missouri River reached it's peak around 5:00 Thursday evening and should start receding sometime within the next 12 hours. Forecasters added that we still could see minor flooding for another da...
  • State of Emergency issued for Great Falls, Cascade County, and Lewis & Clark County

    State of Emergency issued for Great Falls, Cascade County, and Lewis & Clark County

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 2:36 PM EDT2018-06-20 18:36:13 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 8:53 PM EDT2018-06-21 00:53:18 GMT

    The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Great Falls. The Missouri River is expected to crest at 17 feet, a height that matches the historic crest of 1953, as early as the afternoon on Thursday, June 20th, and is expected to last at least into late Friday, June 21st. If you live on or near Woodland Estates Road and the Country Club area of Great Falls, prepare for flooding now.

    The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Great Falls. The Missouri River is expected to crest at 17 feet, a height that matches the historic crest of 1953, as early as the afternoon on Thursday, June 20th, and is expected to last at least into late Friday, June 21st. If you live on or near Woodland Estates Road and the Country Club area of Great Falls, prepare for flooding now.

  • Man charged in meth deaths of pregnant wife, daughter

    Man charged in meth deaths of pregnant wife, daughter

    A 25-year-old Great Falls man is charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the January overdose death of his pregnant wife and his daughter, who was born prematurely.
    A 25-year-old Great Falls man is charged with two counts of negligent homicide in the January overdose death of his pregnant wife and his daughter, who was born prematurely.
  • Former Stevensville school resource officer charged with molestation

    Former Stevensville school resource officer charged with molestation

    Thursday, June 21 2018 6:21 PM EDT2018-06-21 22:21:17 GMT

    STEVENSVILLE - A former school resource officer is charged with molesting a young girl on multiple separate incidents. Court documents filed June 18 say Samuel Steven Fawcett molested a young girl when she was 3 and 4 years old. The girl is now 7 years old, and lives and attends school in Missoula. News outlets reported earlier this year that Fawcett was placed on administrative leave in April, although the reason was not disclosed at the time. Fawcett resigned from the Stevensville...

    STEVENSVILLE - A former school resource officer is charged with molesting a young girl on multiple separate incidents. Court documents filed June 18 say Samuel Steven Fawcett molested a young girl when she was 3 and 4 years old. The girl is now 7 years old, and lives and attends school in Missoula. News outlets reported earlier this year that Fawcett was placed on administrative leave in April, although the reason was not disclosed at the time. Fawcett resigned from the Stevensville...

  • NewsMore>>

  • Roads closed as flooding hits Augusta

    Roads closed as flooding hits Augusta

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 10:43 AM EDT2018-06-19 14:43:07 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 10:24 PM EDT2018-06-21 02:24:09 GMT

    AUGUSTA - Flooding is being reported on Main Street in Augusta and along US Highway 287 at mile marker 38. 

    AUGUSTA - Flooding is being reported on Main Street in Augusta and along US Highway 287 at mile marker 38. 

  • Death ruled accidental in Milk River drowning

    Death ruled accidental in Milk River drowning

    Monday, June 18 2018 6:17 PM EDT2018-06-18 22:17:31 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 5:53 PM EDT2018-06-20 21:53:29 GMT

    The body of a missing Chinook man has been found. According to Blaine County Sheriff Glen Huestis, the body of Noah Hofeldt was found Sunday evening around 5:30pm by volunteers floating the Milk River searching for Hofeldt.  Sheriff Huestis says they believe Hofeldt went missing as early as Monday, June 11th.  It is still unclear what led to the death, but foul play is not suspected. Hofeldt's body is being sent to Billings Tuesday morning for an autopsy. Until then, Sheri...

    The body of a missing Chinook man has been found. According to Blaine County Sheriff Glen Huestis, the body of Noah Hofeldt was found Sunday evening around 5:30pm by volunteers floating the Milk River searching for Hofeldt.  Sheriff Huestis says they believe Hofeldt went missing as early as Monday, June 11th.  It is still unclear what led to the death, but foul play is not suspected. Hofeldt's body is being sent to Billings Tuesday morning for an autopsy. Until then, Sheri...

  • Update: Woman rescued, 13 people still stranded in Wilderness

    Woman rescued, 13 people still stranded in Wilderness

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 12:38 AM EDT2018-06-19 04:38:13 GMT
    Tuesday, June 19 2018 9:07 PM EDT2018-06-20 01:07:43 GMT

    A woman walking near Hauser Dam has been rescued after weather and slippery conditions caused her to get lost.  According to the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office, the woman is safe and uninjured. Her identity has not yet been released. As of 10:30 Monday evening, authorities were taking the woman back to her vehicle.  At the same time, a group of 13 people lost their way in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Lewis and Clark County Sheriffs say the group got stuck on the s...

    A woman walking near Hauser Dam has been rescued after weather and slippery conditions caused her to get lost.  According to the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office, the woman is safe and uninjured. Her identity has not yet been released. As of 10:30 Monday evening, authorities were taking the woman back to her vehicle.  At the same time, a group of 13 people lost their way in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Lewis and Clark County Sheriffs say the group got stuck on the s...

  • Fishing access sites closed due to high water

    Fishing access sites closed due to high water

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 2:17 PM EDT2018-06-19 18:17:37 GMT
    Tuesday, June 19 2018 2:17 PM EDT2018-06-19 18:17:37 GMT
    CASCADE COUNTY - Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks has implemented closure of 2 fishing access sites due to flooding on the Sun River The Medicine River FAS and the Fort Shaw FAS are closed until further notice. FWP says they'll stay that way until the area can be cleaned up and deemed safe.
    CASCADE COUNTY - Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks has implemented closure of 2 fishing access sites due to flooding on the Sun River The Medicine River FAS and the Fort Shaw FAS are closed until further notice. FWP says they'll stay that way until the area can be cleaned up and deemed safe.
Powered by Frankly
Copyright - All content © 2001 - 2018. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.