Last summer my daughter came outside to find me in my garden (which had never happened before, so I knew something was amiss). She looked distressed and shared her dilemma. She had been making an apple pie and when putting it in the hot oven, the pie filling slid out. All. Over.

Stressful incidents similar to this example are likely happening now as 4-H youth are finalizing exhibits. How youth (and adults) cope with stress is a life skill. Knowing how to help is emphasized in a new training called Mental Health First Aid® coming soon to Cowley County.

This type of first aid aims to teach the public how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress. Mental health problems are more common than heart disease, lung disease and cancer combined. Sometimes support and assistance — and not medical intervention — is the appropriate response.

Social support plays an important role in helping people strengthen their ability to cope with stress and adversity. Our agent team, project area superintendents and 4-H volunteers are the first line of support for 4-H youth and their families. We strive to help our youth enhance self-esteem with information, encouragement and environments for positive experiences.

4-H youth participate in conference judging at the Cowley County Fair. Youth share about their exhibit with a knowledgeable judge. The encouraging words and questions of the judge helps the youth highlight successes and challenges of their project. But for this interaction to be a positive experience, the judge must be fully present and listening. Our best judges portray their interest with body language and tone of voice. They might sit next to the youth, lean forward, nod, smile, etc. — making all efforts to promote the youth’s self-esteem while sharing ways to improve future exhibits. 

The first Mental Health First Aid® training will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug 14 and from 8 a.m. to 12 noon Aug. 15 at South Central Kansas Medical Center, Specialty Clinic, 6403 Patterson Parkway, in Arkansas City. Advance registration is requested, but the $30 fee can be paid at the first class session. The course will be led by Robin Browning, Four County Mental Health and myself. Participants need to attend all eight hours of the course to become certified. Upon certification, there are no additional expectations.

For more information or to register, contact K-State Research and Extension Cowley County at 221-5450. And if you were wondering, my daughter and I remade the pie. It was delicious.


Upcoming K-State Research and Extension Events

July 23 — 4-H Fashion Public Revue, 7 p.m. Brown Center, Cowley College.

Aug. 1-5 — Cowley County Fair.

Aug. 14-15 — Mental Health First Aid, adult training, $30, advance registration requested.


Becky Reid is the family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

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