If you can catch a mental health struggle early you have a better change to increase recovery, reduce harm and connect to supports. The role of a mental health first aider is to:
"recognize signs that a person may be experiencing a decline in their mental well-being or a mental health crisis and encourage that person to:
Talk about declines in their mental well-being
Discuss professional and other supports that could help with recovery to improved mental well-being
Reach out to these supports
Assist in a mental health or substance use crisis
Use MHFA actions to maintain one’s own mental well-being" (Retrieved from: MHFA Standard (Virtual) Mental Health First Aide Sept. 1, 2021)
This past week: I gave myself a gift. I registered, participated and became certified in Mental Health First Aide. I had no idea, how much I would learn that I can apply to my own daily journey.
I recently became aware of the important parallel between physical and mental health first aide. Are you aware? When you come across an accident victim at a car crash you're not going to be the one doing surgery, or making a diagnosis. Your role as a first aider is understandably to support, as you've been trained to do, the individual in crisis until the paramedics, ambulance and professionals arrive on the scene and can take over. Similarly, as a mental health first aider, your role is to observe that is something is going on, have a desire and preparedness to help, to be a messenger of hope, and to shore the individual up until they get professional help. I wanted to be trained, ready to ask questions, prepared to assess and understand. *MHFA training teaches this and so much more. Consider becoming a Mental Health First Aider today.
You might be the one struggling, wishing someone would notice you're struggling and privately check in with you, listen, offer hope and understand saying:
"I've noticed that you've been struggling.... what might help look like for you today?"
"I'd like to understand... What are you going through?"
"I didn't know you'd been through that. What has helped in the past?"
"Were you aware that there are supports available, I want to help you reach out and seek them."
"It's understandable that you feel this way. Others have experienced this too. Support is available. Would you like information about getting help?"
As a new mental health first aider I'll want to listen respectfully, encourage the person to talk about their mental well-being, discuss professional and other supports that could help with their recovery and improve their mental well-being. I will encourage the individual to reach out to these supports, and want to be prepared knowing the difference between a crisis and an emergency. I'm glad I do now. Do you? Differing actions are required in a mental health emergency than in a crisis. I'm feeling more adequately prepared now with strategies to build rapport, trust, and to help the person speak openly. My role is to listen fully, without judgement to understand the situation fully. Only then, might I be able to motivate the person to reach out and seek professional support by offering messages of hope, and in turn help them discover that recovery is possible. Personal choice is a pre-requisite to an individual taking responsibility for their own mental well-being.
My hope as an individual with diagnosed mental health disorders, on the journey to recovery, is to advocate for those who still struggle in silence, while also learning self-care. The mental health first aide course also teaches critically important self-care skills. If you want to contribute to the mental well-being of others, you have to be up for that challenge yourself. Help me reduce stigma and open up conversations by registering and inviting others to become mental health first aiders today, as well as to subscribe to this site. Together we can use our strengths, share our stories, and support each other to seek supports, assert ourselves and speak openly to acquire the supports we deserve and are worthy of.
Each of us, is worthy of having our needs met, however we must choose and assert for ourselves believing there is hope. Will you be someone who offers messages of hope when you notice someone struggling, or walk away?
Please register, become informed, prepared and ready to offer hope, support believing that recovery is possible. Check out MHFA courses available in your area, or virtually today.
Learn more here:
Choose Empathy and become a Mental Health First Aider:
The power of empathy (video)
What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.
Dr Brené Brown is a best-selling author, speaker and research professor. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
Voice: Dr Brené Brown
Animation: Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne)
https://www.thersa.org/video/shorts/2013/12/brene-brown-on-empathy (Retrieved Sept.1.2021)