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Military clinic battles mental health issues in the Borderland

Thursday’s course focuses on veterans but is open to all El Pasoans.

The Stephen A. Cohen Clinic will host an eight-hour course Thursday aimed at educating the El Paso community about mental health issues.

The instructor of the course, Melinda Russell, said the course is about educating El Pasoans who encounter veterans and since the city sits next to a military base, there are a lot of veterans.

She said people may be walking beside someone in the street who had a sudden panic attack. “Hopefully there will be someone who knows how to handle that situation,” she said, “and the more people that are educated in that, the greater the city in El Paso is in dealing with any of these kinds of crisis.”

The clinic opened its doors less than a year ago to help veterans and their families get through mental health struggles.

Thursday’s course focuses on veterans but is open to all El Pasoans. Organizers said the more that attend, the stronger the community will be. “The more of us that have training with mental health first aid and know how to handle crisis situations, the better it is for us as a whole,” said the clinic's director, Sandy Emaneul.

"We're stronger, we're better, we're more respectful to each other and we know how to help each other through times of trouble,” Emaneul said.

Organizers said some veterans experience mental health issues due to their line of work and don’t know how to talk about it.

Much like learning how to perform CPR or bandage a wound, attendees will learn how to identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental health issues.

Emaneul said she hopes attendees “walk away with the confidence that they know how to handle a crisis if they come across one. It doesn't have to end tragically,” she concluded, “It can have a positive outcome with a person getting connected with resources.”

Thursday’s class is already full, but the organizers say they’re trying to host the event every couple of months so those interested can call the Stephen A. Cohen Clinic at (915) 320-1390 to join a class.

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