Local organization offers mental health class to 'get people the - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Local organization offers mental health class to 'get people the help they need'

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In light of recent tragedies, like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, one East Texas organization is making sure our community can recognize the symptoms of a mental illness.

The Andrews Center in Tyler is offering a first aid mental health class. Jerry Wrinkle is one of the East Texans who took the class on Wednesday.

Jerry Wrinkle has been a juvenile probation officer in Smith County for 22 years and says it is essential that we as a community start recognizing the symptoms of mental illness around us.

"It's more important now than ever," Wrinkle said.

He says catching it early makes all the difference.

"Since I am a drug counselor dealing with substance abuse issues, because a lot of people dealing with those issues initiate with the stress and traumatic instances. It's those things that cause you to use drugs or commit violent acts like we've seen on the news. If we can catch that and get them redirected in a positive light, it can maybe save some lives," Wrinkle said.

That's why he's here with other East Texans to take the Andrews Center mental health first aid class.

"We're learning about the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Not to the point of making a diagnosis, because that would be a medical professional. But to the point of where you see someone that is depressed, and you can talk with them and hopefully get them help," class organizer and Andrews Center employee Marisha Roberts said.

Marisha said they decided to offer more of these classes because of recent tragedies.

"Because of the recent shootings around the country, we wanted to raise awareness that this class even exists. We want to get more training out there so that people can hopefully recognize symptoms earlier and get people the help they need," Roberts said.

Jerry says this class isn't just for people who deal with people with a mental illness.

"We all deal with people no matter what field of work you're in, or what you do, whether you're a stay-at-home mom and dad or whatever. You're still dealing with the world, and they have family in the world and they may be the only one there to help someone at any given moment," Wrinkle said.

And it's catching it early that could prevent another tragedy.

"You can never have enough knowledge when it comes time," Wrinkle said.

To learn more about the mental health first aid classes and the Andrews Center, CLICK HERE.

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