Understanding what mental health first aid (MHFA) is and why it’s important can open up the world to mental health awareness. It’s easy to assume that someone “flipping out” might be a danger. Some might want to alert the authorities or act out in defense. But what if the issue could be solved with mental health first aid? Knowing when MHFA is needed can help answer that.
Mental health first aid is a specialized course for how to recognize and respond to someone who is experiencing mental health issues or substance abuse. Most anyone can receive training on how to spot the signs and how to respond when witnessing a crisis (sign up details are linked is inserted below).
This article will discuss more on what MHFA is, how to provide it, if it really works and more.
What is Mental Health First Aid? (5 areas it covers)
As briefly mentioned above, mental health first aid is a specialized training course. The course teaches how to recognize and respond to someone who is experiencing mental health issues or substance abuse.
The course goes through what signs to watch out for as well as risk factors involved in various situations. Someone who is has received this training will be able to help someone struggling with a variety of issues. This includes (but not limited to) depression, substance abuse and psychosis.
In the course, individuals will learn all about the following five main topics of concern:
- Depression and mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance Use disorders
What are the key messages of Mental Health First Aid?
The key messages of mental health first aid are to be able to identify a mental health crisis, understand what the individual might be going through and to respond appropriately.
The goal is to be able to assist people who are experiencing a crisis in order to give them the help they need without any harm coming to them or others. The services provided act as a segway between the current crisis someone may be experiencing and getting them proper care.
What is ALGEE in mental health first aid?
During the program, individuals are taught a specific action plan to follow when coming into contact with a potential mental health crisis. The steps are summarized as the acronym ALGEE and are outlined as follows:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
As you can see, providing support and offering resources are the primary methods of administering mental health first aid. Most anyone has the ability to offer assistance in this way.
Sometimes all it takes is reaching out to extend a helping hand. This can show an individual in crisis that people care and they have options.
Why is mental health a first aid?
This specific question is asked a lot when it comes to mental health first aid. “Mental health” itself is not a form of first aid, however, “mental health first aid” is recognized as a form of first aid.
This is because it can provide potential life saving support and resources in the event of a mental health crisis. The intervention of someone who is trained in mental health first aid essentially has the same life saving capabilities as some giving medical first aid such as CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.
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Is MHFA evidence based?
Yes. Mental health crisis happen all the time. In some past cases, lives could have been saved if there was more mental health awareness and mental health first aid.
Suicide, substance abuse, self harm are just a few of the common outcomes that are known to be seen when suffering individuals do not get the support they need during a crisis.
How effective is mental health first aid training?
MHFA is very effective. Trained individuals can effectively support those needing assistance with their addictions, depression, anxiety and more! By showing support and understanding, helpful resources and suggestions for treatment can be offered.
Many people receive help and start their recovery journey toward a better life much sooner than they may have if help was not received. Offering support and resources can forever change an individual’s life for the better if they chose to receive it.
Check out this article on “Does Mental Health First Aid Save Lives?” for more on the effectiveness of the program.
What is MHFA in the workplace?
MHFA in the workplace is usually given as either an online course or an in person meeting/conference. Mental health first aid in the workplace is designed to help build mental health awareness of coworkers on a daily basis.
Being able to notice if someone is struggling with mental or emotional health issues is a strong asset to any team of colleagues. Not only does it improve the work culture, relationships and overall productivity, but it has the potential to save the company money by reducing turnover or leaves of absences.