“It’s not very often that someone can say he talked a person out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Gary Scheppke can.
“Scheppke, a member of the Marin County Board of Mental Health, credits completing a certified course that trains a broad spectrum of people to identify and respond to mental illness.
“The Mental Health First Aid course, advocates say, could grow to be what CPR is to heart attack victims.
“The federal government has spent more than $20 million since 2013 to make the course available in local communities, and thousands of people around the Bay Area have completed it. It received financial and political backing after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a mentally disturbed man killed 20 children and six adults.
“‘You are far more likely to come across someone having a mental health crisis or substance abuse disorder than a heart attack or choking on the piece of food at a restaurant,’ said Bryan Gibb, director of public education for the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, which manages the course nationwide. About 20 percent of people have a mental health issue. Less than 1 percent have a heart attack each year.”
To visit the Mental Health First Aid Website, click here.