A new course is teaching people first aid skills to help those with mental health concerns and its popularity has staggered organizers.
The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group provides a course training people how to recognize the symptoms of someone developing a mental illness and when someone is in severe crisis.
The Royal is one several groups in Ottawa offering the course, one that is now being given across Canada and around the world. It has become so popular at the hospital, however, that they have been forced to double the number of trainers in less than a year, from four to eight.
Mental health experts say you can simplify first aid for someone with depression similar to how you do it for a heart attack victim.
"It's very important to be calm, repeat yourself, because you don't know what voices are going on in their head," said trainer, Cynthia Clark, to a class of participants.
Clark explained such strategies as a compassionate approach to talking to someone with schizophrenia. That includes rolling up a piece of paper and speaking into it, mimicking what it sounds like for those who hear voices.
'A Stigma Buster'
She also said she wished the course was available to her when her son was diagnosed with that mental health illness.
"I thought that, finally, we're going to have the tools that we can offer people to understand what mental health problems are all about," she said.
"I saw it as a stigma buster."
The workshop lasts two days and teaches non-professionals how to assess those showing signs of mental distress and encourage them to seek help.
For high school teacher Cat MacKenzie Gray said she took the course to help teenagers in crisis. Gray worries the numbers are growing.
"It's all we can do to listen and assess ... so we can be there," she said.
The hospital is also developing a similar for youth to help their peers and it is expected to be available next year.
When "Mad Men" actor Hamm was just 20, he experienced chronic depression following his father's death. The structured environment of work and school (he was a college student at the time) helped him recover, but he also relied on therapy and antidepressants to pull him out of a downward spiral. "You can change your brain chemistry enough to think: 'I want to get up in the morning; I don't want to sleep until four in the afternoon," Hamm told UK magazine <em>The Observer</em> in September, 2010, speaking about medication. <strong>More from Health.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990,00.html" target="_hplink">10 Careers With High Rates of Depression</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20320942,00.html" target="_hplink">Boost Your Mood Naturally</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20521449,00.html" target="_hplink">12 Signs of Depression in Men</a>
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Disney actress and singer Lovato made headlines in 2010 by checking into a treatment facility for "emotional and physical issues" after being involved in an altercation with a dancer on the Jonas Brothers World Tour. After leaving the center and getting her life back under control, Lovato revealed to <em>People</em> that she suffered from anorexia, bulimia, and bipolar disorder. She says that "looking back it makes sense. There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I'd be up until 5:30 in the morning."
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In 2011 actress Zeta-Jones, 41, revealed that she has bipolar II disorder, which causes severe depression. (People with bipolar II often don't have the extreme "up" of mania, which is a staple of bipolar I.) Dateline NBC host Jane Pauley praised Zeta-Jones' decision to go public, saying that "she has made the world a safer place for people who have the diagnosis." Pauley, 60, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 and wrote about her experience in her 2004 memoir, "Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue."
Actress Paltrow loved being a new mom to daughter Apple, born in 2004. When her son Moses was born two years later, however, something was different. "I felt like a zombie," Paltrow told <em>Good Housekeeping</em> in February 2011. "I couldn't access my emotions." Still, she didn't suspect postpartum depression until her husband brought up the idea. "I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child," she said. "But there are different shades and depths of it."
Marissa Jaret Winokur
Postpartum depression isn't reserved for women who physically give birth to their children. After Tony-winning Broadway actress Winokur's son was born via surrogate in 2008, she felt stressed and overwhelmed. In fact, surrogacy can sometimes make postpartum anxiety or guilt even worse, Winokur's doctor told People in December 2010. "I didn't feel a connection with Zev," Winokur said. She visited a therapist, went back to work, and started exercising, and her depression began to lift when her son was about 10 months old.
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Jeret "Speedy" Peterson
Olympic freestyle skier Peterson lost his long-time battle with depression in 2011 when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 29. Peterson won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games, but had fought depression and gambling, and had struggled to stay sober for years, reported <em>People</em>. He discovered skiing during his troubled childhood, and used it as a way to burn off "ADD hellion" energy otherwise spent causing trouble, reported <em>Men's Journal</em> in a 2010 profile on Peterson.
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"I know how important good mental health care can be because I personally benefited from it," wrote Gore, the now-estranged wife of Al Gore, in a 1999 <em>USA Today</em> opinion piece. In the article, Gore revealed that she had sought depression treatment years before, after her son had a near-fatal accident. She took medication for some time. "When you get to this point," she said in an interview, "you just can't will your way out of that or pray your way out of that or pull yourself up by the bootstraps out of that. You really have to go and get help, and I did."
Model and actress Shields was one of the first and most prominent celebrities to speak openly about her struggle with postpartum depression. She wrote about it in her 2005 book, "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression." Shields published an opinion piece in the <em>New York Times</em>, defending her decision to take medication and describing the outpouring of support she'd received from other mothers who'd been in the same position.
As host of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" from 2004 to 2009, Hemmis was bubbly, compassionate, and always smiling for the camera. But in September 2009, the carpenter and entrepreneur opened up to People about her ongoing struggle with depression that had caused crying fits, eating binges, and insomnia early on in the show's run. While working on a show like "Extreme Makeover" -- which restores and refurbishes damaged or destroyed homes for families in need -- is both rewarding and fulfilling, it was also emotionally draining at times, Hemmis said.
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Former Playboy Playmate and reality TV star Wilkinson's life changed dramatically after she had a baby at 24. "I felt like I had to be a different person," Wilkinson told <em>People</em>. "I was doing whatever I could for the baby, but I lost myself and it was really frustrating." Pressure to regain her famous figure didn't help, and she was depressed for some time. Two years later, happy and healthy again, Wilkinson spoke openly about her postpartum depression, saying that it affects many women and that "it needs to be talked about." <strong>More from Health.com:</strong> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990,00.html" target="_hplink">10 Careers With High Rates of Depression</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20320942,00.html" target="_hplink">Boost Your Mood Naturally</a> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20521449,00.html" target="_hplink">12 Signs of Depression in Men</a>