First aid course focuses on mental health

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First aid course focuses on mental health

Post by Trooper on Wed 10 Jan 2018, 6:44 pm

By Ian MacAlpine, Kingston Whig-Standard

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Collin Fitzgerald is a co-organizer of a mental health first aid event coming up in Kingston on Jan. 13 and 14 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Kingston.

People who experience mental health issues or are supporting veterans or others with post-tramautic stress disorder, anxiety or depression are welcome to attend the Mental Health First Aid course taking place on Saturday and Sunday at the Our Lady of Fatima Church hall at 588 Division St., from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It is the first of six sessions being offered over the next few months.

The course is free, with Veterans Affairs Canada picking up the cost. The church has donated the hall for the event and Bob’s Butcher Shop is supplying a free hot lunch for the registrants on both days.

The event is being organized by retired master corporal Collin Fitzgerald and Sherry Lachine.

All members of the public are welcome.

Fitzgerald said the event will be helpful for any type of first responder in the community as well as military veterans or those living with people suffering from mental illness.

He said many people in all walks of life have to deal with mental health issues.

“It’s just to educate because without the education how are we as a society able to assist those in need of getting the help that they require?” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald has PTSD after serving with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. He credits the help and support he received in Kingston that got him out of a very dark place in his life.

“I didn’t have any tools [to cope], but once I gained those tools through people who had the education, I was able to get myself into a better headspace and timing.”

Fitzgerald said that once he moved to Kingston, people reached out to him in a “safe and caring manner.”

The course will help people be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of someone suffering from a mental health issue, “essentially being there first on the scene in a situation where someone is not doing well,” Fitzgerald said.

“It’s just a way for myself to give back and to help out in order to combat the issues with mental health.”

Lachine will lead the instructional portion of the program. As well, there will be lots of opportunities for group discussion over the two days, Fitzgerald said.

“It’s about getting back to the basics of human interaction,” he said. “Anybody who is in a place of recovery would definitely benefit from this, in order to help engage in educating those people that are struggling right now.”

Other dates for the course are Feb. 26-27, April 19-20, May 26-27, June 21-22 and June 23-24.

To register for the Mental Health First Aid Course, contact Lachine at 613-484-2977 or via email at


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