What do you do if a loved one has become withdrawn and depressed? How do you help a neighbor you notice is talking to someone who isn't there? What do you say to a friend who intends to take her own life?

You follow ALGEE, a mnemonic device, which stands for: Assess for risk of suicide or harm; Listen nonjudgmentally; Give reassurance and information; Encourage appropriate professional help; and Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

"Every year, one in four individuals will suffer from some form of mental illness," says Jeff Thomas, CEO of Frontier Behavioral Health. "Many of these individuals do not get the help they need unless they experience an acute crisis situation."

To better connect these individuals with mental health services, Frontier began offering Mental Health First Aid training to the public this past summer. The eight-hour course, which covers a wide range of mental health diagnoses, their risk factors, symptoms and treatment, is designed to prepare participants to identify and respond to mental health crises.

The cost to take a course is $25. To register or inquire about the program, call 509-458-7453.

Affordable Care Act 101

Despite the Affordable Care Act's rocky rollout last year, more than 8 million people signed up for health insurance plans through the federal- and state-based exchanges during the law's first open enrollment period. That figure includes 163,000 people in Washington and 76,000 in Idaho. Both Washington and Idaho enrolled more than 30 percent of all residents eligible for private insurance in the marketplace, ranking them among the top 10 highest performing states.

Missed open enrollment? If you experienced a major life change — such as having a baby, adopting a child, getting married or divorced, or losing a job — you may be eligible for a "special enrollment" period of 60 days following the qualifying event. You'll still be able to obtain health coverage this year and you won't have to pay a penalty for being uninsured. Otherwise, the next enrollment period for health coverage in 2015 begins on Nov. 15.

Did You Know?

Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Washington women.

In 2010, 6,250 new cases of female breast cancer were diagnosed in Washington, making the incidence rate among the highest in the nation — 166 per 100,000 women. Check with your doctor about which proactive measures are right for you. ♦


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About The Author

Deanna Pan

Deanna Pan is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers social justice, state politics and health care. In her cover stories, she's written about mass shooting survivors, NGRI patients and honey bees...