Breaking News
More () »

Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

Mental Health First Aid training can save lives

A special course teaches people how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Losing connection, losing jobs, losing loved ones. COVID-19 has put a strain on all of us and local mental health professionals are seeing the cracks develop.

“People are much more anxious, much more feelings of depression and isolation and uncertainty,” said April Lott, President of Directions for Living. “So, what we’re seeing is just a tremendous increase in need.”

That’s why Directions for Living is offering an eight-hour online course called Mental Health First Aid. Much like physical first aid, the training gives participants the skills to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“It absolutely works,” said Lott, who has taught the course for years. “I think we can decrease death by suicide. I think we can decrease the number of calls made to law enforcement to deal with mental health crises, and I think we can get people connected to the services they need.”

Ian Lieberman, a Tampa businessman, is a mental health advocate. He took on the cause after a close friend, Lawrence Dimmitt IV, died by suicide. “The topic of suicide needs to be discussed more, not less,” said Lieberman. Lieberman works closely with the not-for-profit Love IV Lawrence.

Lieberman has taken the Mental Health First Aid training and has already put it into action by helping several of his restaurant employees. He believes so strongly in the program that he’s requiring all of his managers to take it.

“A lot of organizations will say ‘suck it up.’ That’s always been the kind of thing about mental health. People will say ‘shrug it off,’” he explained. “That’s impossible. If someone told you that they had cancer, no one would tell you to ‘suck it up.’”

You can sign up for Mental First Aid training here. Because of CARES Act funding from Pinellas County, the training is free for Pinellas residents until the end of the year. In 2021, the course will cost $150.

Tune into “Great Day Live” weekdays from 9 to 10 a.m. on WTSP-TV.

Hosts Kendall Kirkham and Java Ingram bring you the latest in what everyone’s talking about, from trending stories, lifestyle and entertainment news, buzz-worthy, pop culture moments, and all things fun and exciting happening around Tampa Bay.

Whether it’s people making a difference, talented artists and musicians, delicious food, fun activities to do and make with the family, lovable animals, entertaining events and big names coming to town, we’ve got you covered. We hope to bring you a wealth of information to live your best life and start your morning right!

Like us on Facebook at @greatdaylivetampabay or on Instagram at @greatdaylivetampabay.

If you have an interesting segment idea, send an email to

About Kendall: 

Kendall Kirkham joined “Great Day Live” in November 2017 from Memphis, Tennessee, where she served as morning co-anchor for WMC Action News 5. Prior to her stint in Memphis, Kendall served as co-host of "Tulsa Live" at KOKI in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kendall also worked at KETK in Tyler, Texas, The Dallas Morning News and started her career as an intern for “The Ellen Show” and E! Entertainment.

Kendall has interviewed countless celebrities and notable figures, from Bob Woodward to Arsenio Hall, John Travolta and Paula Deen. She’s hit 9 Gs with the U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds, raised money for various charities in three local “Dancing with the Stars” competitions, and even played a gangster on stage for a traveling Broadway show. Kendall is most proud of her work with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She continues to support the hospital in various capacities today.

Kendall is a proud Texas native. She grew up in the Fort Worth area and graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film.

Kendall is thrilled to join the “Great Day Live” team and is having a ball highlighting this thriving community. She hopes to bring a smile to viewers at home every single day. In her spare time, Kendall enjoys exploring the countless sights, sounds and eats of Tampa Bay with her husband Jason and son Knox.

About Java: 

Java Ingram is a New Orleans native/Texan and is excited to call Florida home! Prior to joining the “Great Day Live” team, Java served as host of a lifestyle-entertainment show in Birmingham, Alabama. She also woke up dark and early, weekday mornings to help drivers make it to their destinations safely as a traffic anchor.

Java started her on-air broadcast career in the birthplace of Elvis Presley, Tupelo, Mississippi. In Tupelo, she served as morning news anchor, producer and reporter.

Javanté is an award-winning journalist, having been recognized by the Associated Press for Best Anchor, Best Reporter and Best Franchise Reporting, just to name a few.

When she's not working, Java is very passionate about giving back to the community, having served on the corporate boards for The Boys and Girls Club of North Mississippi, The Civic Ballet Company, The Doniphan Dance Project and the Leadership Council for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama. She has volunteered also with a number of civic organizations.