LEWISTON – A new course, “Responding to Mental Health Crisis through Community,” will be offered in the spring semester at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

The course will focus on the ideology of mental illness as it is affected by factors of heredity, gender and ethnicity. Contemporary issues of community mental health and the relationship to criminal justice, deviancy and human behavior will also be analyzed.

Students will explore tools for evaluating risks associated with emotionally distraught individuals and examine how people struggling with mental illness are able to function successfully in the community. Class members will also learn how to manage crisis and access community services.

The instructor will be Laurie Cyr-Martel, MA, MHRT IV, crisis intervention specialist for the Lewiston Police Department. She is the author of “Responding to Emotionally Disturbed Persons – A Manual for Law Enforcement,” which she wrote to provide information to the law enforcement community about dealing with individuals in emotional distress.

Cyr-Martel earned a bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences from USM/L-A and she also holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Antioch College in New Hampshire.

The course (SBS 399) will meet from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays, beginning Jan. 24. Registration is open through the first class meeting.

Other courses being offered through the social and behavioral sciences program include Health, Illness, and Culture, Introduction to Social Services, Brain and Behavior and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

For more information or to register, call 753-6530. The complete spring semester USM/L-A course schedule is online at www.usm.maine.edu/lac/schedules.

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