MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the initial help given to a person showing symptoms of a mental illness or in a mental health crisis until appropriate professional, peer, or family support can be engaged.
In Georgia, over 2.3 MILLION people face the challenge of living with mental illness. Suicide is the 9th most common cause of death, taking more lives than homicide! In fact, among Georgia youth and young adults ages 15-24, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. Each year, almost 1,000 Georgians of all ages die by suicide and about 18,000 seek emergency care for injuries related to suicide attempts.
Recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness and intervening early can save lives. That’s where Mental Health First Aid is key!
MHFA has a strong evidence base and presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders. In the 8 hour course, participants learn a five-step process to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions and help a person developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or in crisis receive appropriate care.
Mental Health First Aiders learn to apply a single strategy in helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be suicidal, supporting a person experiencing psychosis, and helping an individual who has overdosed, etc. In practicing the intervention strategy, Mental Health First Aiders learn risk factors and warning signs of mental illness and/or addiction, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness, and learn information about evidence-based treatment and support – ultimately building participants’ mental health ‘literacy’.
The action plan taught in MHFA helps to identify symptoms that are commonly ignored, and are assumed to just go away. “Mental Health First Aid teaches people that it’s OK to talk about mental health issues,” says Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council). “Much of the course focuses on teaching people that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable.”
With today’s stresses and pressures, you might be working with or know someone who is suffering from a mental illness or who is in a crisis situation. In the next decade, we expect Mental Health First Aid in the US will become as common as CPR and First Aid. It has the potential to reduce stigma, improve mental health literacy, and empower individuals – the benefits are limitless!
If your community group, organization, or business is interested in receiving Mental Health First Aid, please contact Cailyn Lingwall at Mental Health America of Georgia: firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-904-1960 to schedule training.