PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Tazewell County Health Department is offering free mental health first aid training to the public. This is part of a national initiative to increase mental health literacy.

The class gives people the tools to identify, understand, and respond to someone who might struggle with mental issues. Mental health has become more widely discussed in recent years, especially as violent shootings have been happening frequently across the country.

Educators such as Shanita Wallace said that early intervention is key to identifying problems.

“If we can identify that somebody’s experiencing a mental health challenge and we’re able to intervene and provide that resource and get them appropriate professional help, we may be able to avoid ending in a suicide or mass tragedy,” Wallace said.

Wallace also mentioned how there is a five-step plan for dealing with mental health situations that may arise.

“There’s a five-step action plan that we are training on how to assess situations, how to listen nonjudgmentally, how to encourage professional help and how to encourage self-help and other support strategies, and give hope with facts,” Wallace said.

Wallace also said that 1 in 5 adults deal with mental health issues, but many are hesitant to look for help. The next class will be held at the Fondulac Public Library on April 27. It will be the last class until June.