Mental Health First Aid courses

Mental Health is a Global Priority

Mental illness is becoming more visible globally due to the global movement and tireless work of advocates and community members to destigmatise it.

Modern societies face an array of challenges and the complex issues that we deal with require robust and integrated systems that include prevention, intervention, clinical care and post-recovery support to improve outcomes for those with mental illness.

In the short term, one of the best ways to assist those with a mental health problem is to recognise the signs that someone is struggling and administer basic mental health first aid skills learned in a first aid course.

Where does a person even begin with mental health first aid? Is it the same as putting a band-aid on a scraped knee? What are the signs or circumstances that can lead to mental illness? How do you approach sensitive conversations with tact?

It’s a delicate matter, and no one size fits all, but there are tried and true methods that can help to answer these questions. The best and most comprehensive way to equip oneself to help if a colleague, family member or friend needs mental health first aid is to take a mental health first aid education course for yourself.

Undergoing accredited mental health first aid training with a registered training organisation like First Aid Pro Adelaide can be beneficial for both you and your loved ones.

Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace

Mental health concerns at work are a growing concern with many employees struggling with disabling mental health issues and problems, stress, anxiety and depression, impacting their productivity and well-being. It’s crucial for employers to address these problems and create a supportive environment.

Encouraging open communication, providing resources for mental health support and promoting work-life balance can make a significant difference.

Another change that can be implemented is training managers to recognise the signs of distress and offering confidential counselling services.

By prioritising mental health, companies can improve employee satisfaction, reduce absenteeism, and enhance overall performance.

How to Help in a Mental Health Crisis

If someone is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis, anyone can step up and make a positive difference.

  • First, it’s important to provide stability during what could be an emotionally turbulent time and stay calm. Allow them to speak freely and listen without judgement, saving any questions until after you feel they are ready to answer.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help and offer to help them find resources. Unless there is a significant barrier to them doing so, it is important to empower someone, rather than to infantilise them by taking away their power to make important choices. Encourage them to take ownership and control of their mental health journey, lending assistance only when asked. This is how you ensure they can keep their dignity even during difficult times.
  • If they are in immediate danger, call emergency services or take them to the nearest hospital.
  • It’s also important to take care of yourself, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a support system or seek counselling if needed. Even as a first aider, someone else’s mental health isn’t your responsibility and if they begin to take advantage of you or become hostile towards you, you must be prepared to walk away to protect yourself. ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup.’
  • Remember, like other illnesses, mental health crises are treatable and recovery is possible with the right treatment and support as long as that person is ready and willing to accept and seek help.

Conversations About Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-suicidal self-injury refers to deliberate acts of harming oneself without the intention of ending one’s life and is a way for the individual to cope with emotional pain or distress.

It is often trivialised because stereotypes in popular media have framed it as the reckless, ‘attention-seeking’ behaviour of rebellious teenagers acting out performatively.

If you suspect someone is self-harming, it’s crucial to approach these conversations with empathy and understanding, as individuals who engage in non-suicidal self-injury may be struggling with deep emotional turmoil.

Offer to provide support and resources to help them find healthier coping mechanisms and to seek appropriate professional help, if needed. Remember, open dialogue and compassion are key in any support group addressing this sensitive topic.

Conversations About Suicide

If someone is at immediate risk call 000. Mental health first aid is not a replacement for emergency medical assistance if someone’s life is in danger.

Before things escalate to an emergency situation, you could have a conversation that changes everything.

Have a conversation before it becomes an emergency. Suicidal thoughts are often a response to overwhelming despair, hopelessness, guilt, depression, anxiety and shame. Support can make a real difference and prevent suicide, one of the leading causes of death in Australia.

Discussing suicide openly won’t put the idea in someone’s head. Skirting around the topic and using slang can be harmful, but showing someone struggling with mental health problems that their thoughts and feelings are normal won’t make things worse.

When discussing this topic, talk openly and honestly without criticism. Let them know you’ve noticed a change that concerns you. Describe it objectively, avoiding opinionated adjectives. For example, instead of commenting on their clothing, say you’ve noticed their style has changed.

To help you navigate this mental health first aid conversation further, here are some more tips:

  • Ask them directly about whether they are considering suicide and be respectful of their response. If they refuse to talk and you continue to push them they may not seek help.
  • Step back if they don’t open up, but let them know they can always talk to you if they change their mind.
  • Trust your instincts if something seems wrong and observe from a distance. Revisit the conversation if needed and share concerns with their support network.
  • Ask them how you can best support them. It’s important to recognise that feeling powerless is one of the reasons someone may be having suicidal thoughts.
  • Acknowledge their feelings of fear and pain, even if you can’t fully understand. Do your best to empathise with them.
  • Don’t try to tell them that ‘it could be worse’ or that they ‘should be grateful for what they have.’ These dismissive statements are unhelpful and can make them feel invalidated.
  • Be mindful of your presence, including your body language, tone and facial expressions. Stay calm, refrain from judging them, and use active listening techniques to show that you truly hear them.
  • Help them understand that thoughts are just thoughts and do not define them. It’s important for them to know that they don’t have to act on these thoughts.
  • Don’t rush to solve all their problems, even if you think you have easy solutions. Your role is to listen to their concerns and ensure they feel safe and heard. Focus on exploring their emotions and providing support.
  • Only escalate the situation if you become aware that they have started planning or making preparations. If you have this information, you are not obligated to keep it to yourself. Encourage them to seek professional help and involve them in finding a resolution to their crisis.

Mental Health First Aid Training Benefits

Mental Health First Aid Training is highly beneficial, it equips individuals with the skills to provide initial support to someone experiencing a mental health first aid crisis situation. This training helps people recognise signs of mental health problems and offers guidance on approaching and assisting those in need.

By increasing awareness and understanding of mental health first aid, stigma can be reduced and we can promote greater empathy for individuals who are struggling. Mental Health First Aid Training also teaches effective communication techniques in mental health crisis situations and provides resources for any further information and help.

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Ultimately, this training empowers individuals to make a positive difference in the lives of those struggling with mental health first aid challenges.

Final Thoughts

Increased awareness and comprehension of mental health first aid reduces stigma and facilitates empathy, empowering community groups and individuals to make a positive impact on those grappling with mental health problems.

The rising prevalence of mental health problems in the workplace highlights the importance of fostering a supportive environment for employees. Mental Health First Aid Training offers immense benefits by imparting individuals with the necessary practical skills to provide essential assistance and physical first aid to individuals undergoing a mental health crisis.