The first Spanish-language mental health first aid class at Compass Behavioral Health will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30.

The class is free and open to the public and will include lunch and a free textbook participants can take home with them.

The goal of mental health first aid is to train community members how to help people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, much like CPR trains people with no medical background how to assist someone having a heart attack, said class facilitator Vicki Broz.

Broz is the region 2 director of Compass, which includes Ford, Hodgeman and Gray counties.

Participants in the class will learn to apply a strategy to help someone through a panic attack, engage with someone who may be suicidal, support a person experiencing psychosis and help someone who has overdosed on drugs.

“Learning about mental health is as important as physical health,” said Fernando Rodriguez-Infante, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Compass in Garden City. “This class will help you intervene when someone is in crisis, rather than treat the cause of their problem.”

Rodriguez-Infante is also the director of Compass at Ulysses. He will lead the class with Paulina Zacapa-Reyes, a licensed professional counselor at Compass in Dodge City.

Two out of every 10 adults struggle with mental health and many times they don’t know where to go, he said.

“Mental health problems are not going to go away,” Rodriguez-Infante said. “Everyone can benefit from this class.”

He hears the fear in the Hispanic community when people say, “If I go and ask for help it means I’m crazy,” or “If I go and ask for help it means I’m weak and people are going to judge me and lock me up.”

But “crazy” is a negative word, Rodriguez-Infante said.

“There’s a lot of stigma and misinformation about mental health and this class will help dispel those beliefs,” he said.

Class size is limited to 25 people, so register by email or show up the day of, Broz said. The value of the class is $170 per participant, but Compass waived the fees as part of its commitment to educating the community.

Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

If enough people show up, Compass may schedule a second Spanish-language mental health first aid class, and even one for Spanish-speaking children, Broz said.

For more information and to register for the class, email Broz at vbroz@compassbh.org. Call Compass Behavioral Health at 620-227-8566 or visit www.compassbh.org.