In a first aid an injured person is given essential help until a professional medical treatment is given. The main aim of a first aid is to save life, prevent any kind of further harm, promote recovery and provide comfort. Mental health first aid (MHFA) does the same for individual developing mental health problems.
Mental health first aid is given until proper professional help is given or until the crisis is over. The main aims here are making sure the person is safe, preventing the problem from becoming serious, promote recovery and comforting the person till a professional help is available.
There are mental health first aid training courses that are internationally recognized. They educates individuals on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, understand the effects of these symptoms, trains them to give information to seek professional help. It also teaches how to identify warning signs of suicide and provide necessary help. The program trains the participants a 5 step action plan, ALGEE to help individual developing signs and symptoms of being in emotional crisis or developing a mental illness. The aim of this 5 step program is to assess for risk of self harm and suicide, listening non-judgmentally, encourage professional help, self help and support strategies.
MHFA will be provided to a person in need by someone who is not a mental health professional but by someone from the person’s social network, it could be a family member, teacher, friend or a co-worker.
Why is Mental Health First Aid needed?
Mental health problems are quite common but rarely people notice it. Disorders such as anxiety, mood disorders and addiction are common; many times these become so common that people hardly consider it a serious problem. They instead get used to the effects of it and that makes situation more worse.
People are also not well informed about mental health problem. They hardly notice it because they know less about it. Encouraging people about MHFA will make them aware of the mental illness and what can be done to deal with them. Sometimes it so happens that the individual realises that they have a problem but do not know where to seek help for it, MHFA can guide them to appropriate professional help.
At times people resist seeking help due to the societal negative attitudes associated with mental illness. Training people in MHFA will educate them as to what exactly is a mental illness and how developing a mental illness does not define the individual.
Educating people on mental health first aid will help the individual seek professional help before the condition gets worse and would also bring awareness about what mental illness means. Lastly, one should always remember MHFA is for helping people, it does not teach a aider to diagnose the person in need.
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