Training: Dial Help offers residents crisis intervention training at PLDL

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette Mary Gaddis (seen here) and Mike Gant of Dial Help conducted a community crisis intervention training June 30 in the community room of the Portage Lake District Library. The free event introduced participants to tactics to help others dealing with issues ranging from anxiety to suicide attempts.

HOUGHTON — This past Saturday, Dial Help of Houghton conducted a training session of sorts on crisis intervention at the Portage Lake District Library.

This was the third time that Dial Help had put on the training. The last time they held it was last year. They also plan to run another in Ontonagon in August, according to Mary Gaddis and Mike Gant, of Dial Help.

The most common attendees are concerned parents and teachers, though psychology students, nurses and human resources professionals also attended.

“Anyone can learn to help in a crisis,” said Gant, “we help people through a moment in time but ultimately everyone needs to solve their own problems.”

“A crisis is defined by the person in crisis,” said Gant, “A crisis is when a situation is overwhelming for a person.”

While attendees were encouraged to help people during crisis, they were warned not to try to diagnose people and were reminded that intervention is not a substitute for counseling. Part of the training included identifying resources for people in crisis and encouraging people in crisis to seek professional help.

“In this area, people tend to think that we don’t have a lot of [mental health] resources,” said Gaddis. “We really have strong community and a lot of resources.”

The training was a condensed version of the thirty-hour training undergone by Dial Help volunteers and addressed mental illness, domestic violence, grief, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, self-injury, sexual violence, substance use disorder, suicide and dealing with youth and vulnerable adults.

The training, which consisted of a video, a slide presentation and group exercises, also addressed common myths about mental illnesses and suicide, including that asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will incite them to suicide and that people commonly fake suicidal thoughts to get attention.

“We have great police,” said Gant. “They would far rather get a call that was a prank, or someone who just needed help than to clean up after someone who has killed themselves.”

After the session ended, everyone in attendance received a certificate of completion.

Dial Help’s community crisis intervention training was paid for by the Portage Health Foundation’s Mobile Response Grant. Dial Help’s mobile response team was formed one year ago and allows team members to respond to crises in a larger area, as Houghton is the only Dial Help location in the Upper Peninsula.

To learn more about future crisis intervention trainings, other services offered by Dial Help or information on volunteering, call Dial Help’s business line at 482-9077, or visit them online at