A Brief Introduction into Mental Health First Aid

People may raise an eyebrow at the term ‘mental health first aid’ but there shouldn’t be any stigma when it comes this as it could really save someone’s life. Just like CPR can be performed to save the life of someone falling victim to a heart attack, a mental health first aid course can go a long way to properly preparing you to save someone’s life who’s fallen into a depression and cannot see a way out.

Whether the affected person suffers from depression, anxiety, trauma or substance abuse issues, a mental health first aid course will provide you with the necessary information and skills to help deal with a vulnerable person in both situations of extreme seriousness or spotting the symptoms before they progress.

Here is a quick summary of just a few the key teachings you will learn from a professional mental health first aid course.

How to listen
It may sound cliché, but sometimes people suffering from mental health issues just need to have a serious conversation about how they’re feeling. Your ability to listen, whilst offering insight, can work wonders and can help to bring a person’s self-esteem up – never underestimate the power of making someone feel both respected and understood.

It is important to remember to not be judgemental when someone is talking to you, they trusted you enough to tell you, so you would be betraying that trust by passing judgement on them, while trying to steer them away from any damaging behaviour in the future.

Properly evaluate the risk
Those experiencing issues with their mental health sometimes experience suicidal or self-harming thoughts, so it is crucial that you spot the tell-tale signs early to prevent them doing any harm towards themselves.

Notable behaviours of those experiencing suicidal thoughts include a feeling of hopelessness, constant mood swings, a sudden withdrawal from social situations, frequently talking about death related things and increased substance abuse – to name but a few. If you think someone is an immediate danger to themselves you need to alert the proper emergency authorities so they can deal with the situation accordingly.

Give them a positive mindset
When a person is talking to you about their mental illness, it is important to remind them that it is just that: an illness. People can, and often do, recover from such a debilitating disease so when people feel that there isn’t an end in sight it’s always useful to remind them of this fact.

Don’t assign blame either, for instance, scolding someone for starting themselves on a path to alcohol addiction. Approach every conversation with a sense of respect and a positive attitude, optimism is infectious.

Help them help themselves
You can offer all the help you want to a person, but they’re going to have to find the change within themselves eventually. It is beneficial to remind those you treat to look for methods of self-help to assist them in becoming self-reliant. Such methods include exercise, meditation, self-help literature and engaging socially with their peers and family.

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