Help available for people suffering from mental illness

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Suicide is a difficult subject, especially if you know someone who's been a victim. In many cases, those victims have a mental illness.

One mother wants to save people by teaching others how to pick out and respond to signs of mental illness.

"If I stay in my house every day and turn my grief inward that's not allowing God to use it," said Terry Lee, a mental health first aid instructor.

Instead, Terry Lee is being proactive. Less than a year ago, she lost her son, Phillip Lee Jr. to suicide.

"I don't think there's been a day yet that I haven't cried," said Lee.

She's turning those tears and this tragedy into hope. Terry is now a certified mental health first aid instructor.

"The course is simply an eight-hour certification that allows you to acquire the basic skills that you will need to care for someone who may be in a mental health crisis or a substance use disorder crisis," said Lee.

Terry says the class is interactive and teaches you the symptoms and what you can do.

"To get people to help and to keep them connected so they don't feel like suicide is an option like Phillip did," said Lee.

Terry wants to prepare people for the growing issue.

"Statistics based on the national council for behavioral health, say that 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 people will have a diagnosable mental health disorder within the next year. Even as a nurse of 35 years, I learned so much in this course that I simply did not know," said Lee.

Terry plans to start teaching classes next month in Aiken. She's even looking for places in downtown Augusta, along Broad Street to hold classes.

"Even though it may not be you, that may suffer down the road from a mental health disorder or crisis it could very likely be someone in your family, someone you work with, someone you go to church with, or someone you encounter on a daily basis,” said Lee.

Terry's goal is to get one person in every family certified.

Terry's also trying to bring the course to all area hospitals to educate health professionals.

Her first class is May 7 in Aiken and there are still spots available. For details on the upcoming classes, email terrylee@bellsouth.net

Copyright 2019 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved