If you’re thinking about doing Mental Health First Aid training for yourself or for your team, you might want to know more about what you actually learn on the course…
Well, first let’s start with what you don’t learn, and that’s how to become a counsellor, psychologist or other mental health professional.
For many people, knowing that is a relief. After doing MHFA training you’re not expected to have all the answers or be able to diagnose or treat someone experiencing poor mental health.
After all, this is first aid. And just like with physical first aid it’s help that’s given to someone who is ill or injured before any medical treatment can be obtained.
What you do learn is how to provide vital, initial support – and support that can be potentially life-saving – to someone who’s developing a mental health issue, experiencing a worsening of an existing issue or in a mental health crisis.
The course teaches you how to spot the warning signs of common mental health crises, how to offer and provide initial help and how to guide a person towards appropriate professional help.
Mental Health First Aid action plan
Mental Health First Aid training will give you practical skills and techniques and an action plan for applying those effectively should you identify the symptoms that someone may be struggling.
Mnemonics are always handy for these kinds of things. In physical first aid they have DRABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation). In Mental Health First Aid, we have ALGEE:
- Approach, assess and assist
- Listen and communicate non-judgementally
- Give support and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage other supports
On a Mental Health First Aid course, you’ll be taken through how to use the ALGEE action plan in response to different conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, suicidal crises, self-harm behaviour, eating disorders, and psychosis.
You’ll also learn the skills to act with confidence in situations involving poor mental health. For example, you’ll learn how to listen with empathy – something many of us think we’re doing when sometimes we’re actually doing the opposite.
You’ll learn the best language to use, including words and phrases that are helpful, and those that aren’t, and be given information on the appropriate services to suggest should professional support be required.
Six key things you’ll learn on a Mental Health First Aid course
Everyone takes away different learnings from a Mental Health First Aid course, depending on the reasons they attended and their own frame of reference.
But the six key things everyone will learn are:
- How to spot the early signs of a mental health issue
- To feel confident to provide initial help
- How to preserve life when a person may be at risk of harm to themselves or others
- How to help mental health from getting worse
- How to promote recovery and good mental health
- Better understanding of the stigma that exists around mental health
Become a Mental Health First Aider
If you want to be part of this approach to helping people showing signs of poor mental health or experiencing a crisis, then join the growing community of Mental Health First Aiders (approx. 4 million in 27 countries worldwide so far).
Join the revolution, be part of the solution.
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