By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Studies show that nearly half of all Americans dealing with mental health problems live their entire life without seeking treatment, but that is something one group in Kansas City is hoping to change.
And without treatment, serious mental illness can lead to unemployment, crime, incarceration, suicide or early death, doctors say.
Moreover, one in five Americans have some sort mental health issues - problems that could potentially lead to serious consequences if not treated. Those problems begin in people aged 14 to 24, according to doctors.
"I think if we take anything away from the Sandy Hook tragedy it should be that we educate more people about mental health," said Mark Wiebe, director of public affairs for Wyandot Inc, an organizations focused on addressing diverse needs of the community.
Wiebe said violence is a very complicated issue with several variables.
"But I do think these people that commit these horrible acts are very, very troubled," he said.
As part of President Barack Obama's pack to curb gun violence, he calls for more teachers to have mental health first-aid training.
"I think a lot of what this is about is normalizing mental health issues. If we can get kids early on talking about mental health, in time, people will just become more comfortable talking about mental health issues," Wiebe said.
The goal of Mental Health First Aid is to work both sides of the state line to get 1,300 new trained people this year.
The group admits it is a big goal, but they add recognizing the problem is the first step towards solving it.
"That is a pretty big goal. We have 6,000 trained across the state, so if we get 1,300 trained in greater Kansas City, we'll be on top," said Jermine Alberty, director of Mental Health First Aid training.
And a recent $75,000 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City helps.
The group is hoping that others will be interested in learning more. They are offering two training classes over the next two months.
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