Mental health is an issue that tends to be talked about in negative terms, says Aubrey Doss.

“We know that youth and even adults in this area don’t always seek out mental health treatment,” she says. “We tend to talk about people being ‘crazy,’ but not in terms of the positive things. One in five adults experience a mental health challenge in life. But they’re productive members of society and we just don’t talk about any of that.”

Doss, who graduated from Missouri Southern in ’09 with a degree in psychology, returned to campus in April to help lead Youth Mental Health First Aid, a one-day training seminar sponsored by the Psychology Department.

Those attending learned the basic skills needed to help a young person in crisis. Topics covered included issues such anxiety, depression, substance abuse and disruptive behavior disorders.

“The idea is to teach people to recognize the signs and symptoms of youth having a mental health challenge and what to do if they see those signs,” says Doss, who works as a project coordinator for Joplin’s Ozark Center. “We teach participants how to handle that situation. Even if you’re not a mental health provider, you can handle it until someone can help you out.”

The next steps are to follow the ALGEE plan – Assess for risk of suicide or harm; Listen non-judgmentally; Give reassurance and information; Encourage appropriate professional help; Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Doss says she enjoys the chance to come back to campus to help others address a serious issue.

“I enjoyed my experience at Southern immensely,” she says. “It’s nice to come back and feel like I’m giving back to the students. It’s practical information I would have wanted before going into the field.”