Kingston nurse organizes mental health first aid courses for veterans


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Kerri Tadeu, a local nurse, runs mental health first aid courses for the veterans community.

Tadeu worked at Providence Care, a teaching hospital affiliated with Queen’s University, as a registered psychiatric nurse for 18 years.

The course, Mental Health First Aid for the Veteran Community, is administered by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

The one-day course provides people with a range of tools, including training to recognize the signs that may indicate that a person is experiencing a decline in their mental well-being, respond with helpful actions when a person is going through mental health or substance abuse crisis and taking care of yourself to manage your own mental well-being.

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The course is not training to provide therapy, peer support, or other types of long-term support. Additionally, it is not designed for participants who are currently experiencing a serious mental health crisis.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s website, the goal of the course is “to enhance our collective ability to recognize and help addictions, as well as mental health issues and illnesses, by helping them. veterans to apply evidence-based practices in service delivery, the workplace and personal interactions.

In 2018, Veterans Affairs Canada piloted mental health first aid courses for the veterans community. Tadeu got involved in the project, helping to organize the face-to-face courses and to certify 156 people in MHFA.

The MFHA Veterans Community Course was developed with funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, consultations with stakeholders including veterans, veterans organizations and Veterans Affairs Canada, and testing under of its pilot program.

Now, those with a connection to the veterans community can access the $ 250 course for free thanks to funding from Veterans Affairs Canada.

The first course organized by Tadeu, scheduled for July 14, is already full. The next available registration date is July 29. After that, Tadeu will organize a course every six weeks.

“I have taken (the MHFA course) three times,” Tadeu told The Whig-Standard in an interview. “I took it over in 2017, 2020 and most recently in 2021.

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“Mental health is constantly changing and we are still in the pandemic. I think it is important that people continue their education and receive first aid in mental health. It’s the same as CPR first aid – things like taking a refresher or going for the first time so you can help someone when needed.

In 2020, Tadeu received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation in memory of his friend and Kingston resident, Major Michelle Knight-Mendes, who committed suicide in Afghanistan in 2009.

In 2016, Tadeu, a veteran and a member of the Canadian Armed Forces jointly adopted the Highway of Heroes, the stretch of Highway 401 that connects Trenton to Toronto, in honor of Knight-Mendes.

The Highway Adoption Program brings in members of the military community and veterans twice a year to pick up trash by the highway.

“While we’re very environmentally savvy in our efforts, we actually come together as a community of veterans. And that’s what happens at the exit of the highway of heroes where the mental health aspect comes into play, ”explained Tadeu.

Tadeu said she is also running the MHFA course in memory of Knight-Mendes.

“Michelle has been gone for 12 years, but I feel a responsibility to build a legacy in her memory, to help others help themselves and to always remember Michelle in everything I do in my personal life. , make changes and meet the needs of active members. It’s really important to me.

Those looking for more information about the course or wanting to register can contact Tadeu by email at [email protected] or by phone at 613-539-1312.

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