First aid classes offered in mental health

First aid classes offered in mental health

By Liz Lockhart

A mental health board in Illinois, America, is offering a 12-hour mental health first aid class spread over three days, starting on Friday 7th June.

This will be a continuing education class which offers information on how to recognise and assist someone who might be in the early stages of distress.  It is aimed at helping someone who is developing a mental health problem or who is in mental health turmoil.

The class teaches signs and symptoms of differing mental health disorders and also demonstrates effective response to individuals showing symptoms.

In a news release the Mental Health Board officials said ‘Mental health first aid is comparable to first aid for physical problems.  It teaches important skills and helps to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.’

‘The general lack of knowledge about mental health problems adds to the stigma that might prevent people from seeking help, and it prevents people from providing support.’ the release said.

‘Mental health first aid is a public education program designed for community groups, law enforcement and other emergency responders, school staff, businesses and the pubic so that they can identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.’ Wendy Neuman, program monitor and training assistant for the Mental Health Board said.

‘Mental health problems are very common, with the most common being depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders,’ Neuman said.  ‘Frequently, substance abuse is a co-occurring problem.’

One in every four adults is affected by a diagnosable mental illness in any given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  They explain that this class is to teach participants about the symptoms, possible risk factors and where and how to get help.  It also teaches tips on how to dea with people whose illness makes them irrational. Basic skills are taught as a bridge until professional help can be found.

‘Education reduces people’s fear of the unknown,’ Neuman said.

What a great idea – let’s hope it can be rolled out across the planet. 

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