TAKING ACTION – MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID

As we shift focus to a new month, preparations for our Frontline Mental Health Training has taken center stage. Reach Out Together has been hosting this training each quarter in order to teach the fundamentals of Mental Health First Aid.

For many, Mental Health First Aid can be quite the unknown, as mental health itself is such a broad topic to take in. According to The Mental Health Commission of Canada, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a “training course designed to give members of the public the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.” The course has proven over time to build mental health literacy, decrease stigmatizing attitudes and help individuals identify, understand and respond to visible signs of mental illness.

At Reach Out Together, some of our main goals are to educate the public about mental health, and provide the resources needed for a successful recovery from a mental illness. Through our interactive Frontline Mental Health Training, we introduce our participants to ‘Psychological First Aid’, a simple tool that can provide frontline mental health workers or community advocates with basic knowledge and skills to help people affected by the crisis in their lives.

As per the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Canadian statistics show that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem during the pandemic. As such, the course breaks down signs, symptoms and risk factors for four of the most common and most stigmatized mental health disorders, namely, Substance-Related Disorders, Mood-Related Disorders, Anxiety and Trauma-Related Disorders, and Psychotic Disorders. While the training does not teach participants to become therapists or counsellors, it does provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes that allow someone to offer effective first aid intervention.

While we at Reach Out Together are working towards offering the Frontline Mental Health Training regularly and at the start of every quarter, the Mental Health First Aid course, which is very similar in nature, has been adapted globally, in 21 different countries. MHFA is currently being offered Bermuda, Cambodia, Canada, China, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, United States, and Wales. The vision, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada is for every Canadian in need to be within reach of effective mental health first aid, and to make MHFA as common as CPR and Physical First Aid training.

To break it down in simple terms, participants of the training are taught how to provide effective crisis intervention in many different situations such as panic attacks, suicidal behaviour, substance overdose, acute stress reactions, and psychotic episodes. It therefore comes as no surprise that this course is most needed at a time like this, when the pandemic has impacted the mental health of so many people, some more negatively than others. MHFA not only provides the opportunity to learn about mental health versus mental illness, but also gives the participant the opportunity to practice an intervention strategy and make it easier to apply that knowledge to a real-life situation. As stated on mhfa.ca, in addition to crisis interventions, participants learn how to have confident and effective conversations about mental health, regardless of whether someone is in crisis or not. This includes recognizing the signs and symptoms of an emerging mental health problem, or noticing a change in someone’s behaviour and starting a conversation with that person.

While an average fee of 100 to 300 USD can be expected when registering for an intensive training such as this, Reach Out Together will be hosting its next virtual training session on April 24th and 25th, at an exclusive price of 47 USD for a limited time only.

For more information on how to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/reach-out-together-14151652960