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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The University of Colorado College of Nursing is now training front-line providers in mental health first aid. It’s a way to help nurses recognize mental health issues and find resources for patients and themselves.

Tammy Spencer, the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs, says the 8-hour training was held earlier in the semester and has proven meaningful during this pandemic.

“I’m sure you are hearing about nurses on the frontline that are really struggling,” she said. “You’ve heard of burnout, and again moral distress. And I think you add to that the uncertainty that this pandemic has caused, it just magnifies that need for self care as well as that need for identifying and assessing other people who may be in need, and how can we help them.”

Spencer says the school hopes to instill in the next generation of nurses the idea that they need to care for themselves to be able to care for others. They should exercise, go outside and take breaks.

“We learned so many things that I am using now,” said Brittany Andrighetti, a student who took the training.

CU College of Nursing partnered with Centura Health for the inaugural class.

“We learned just a bunch of different skills on how to have people open up to us, what to do if someone approaches us and they are dealing with mental illness, what to do if we ourselves are dealing with mental illness, and I think it was great,” Andrighetti said.

During the pandemic and during normal times, nurses see plenty of patients and families struggling. 

“We need to get more comfortable with asking the uncomfortable questions,” Andrighetti said.

As she moves forward helping patients, she’ll also help herself.

“You can’t care for your patients 100 percent if you’re not caring for yourself 100 percent,” she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 844-493-8255