Why you should take Mental Health First Aid

I’ve been over the numbers more times than I care to think about: Roughly one in five Americans actively suffer from some sort of mental illness. Statistically speaking, every time you are in a room with five people, at least one of them is in the middle of some sort of mental health challenge.

That, in my mind, means all of us have to do a better job of being able to help care for our friends who are in pain or undergoing an acute mental health crisis. I’d argue to also means you should investigate taking a Mental Health First Aid class.

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a formal program, run by the National Council for Behavioral Health. According to its website, Mental Health First Aid “teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders in your community.”

The website wants to make Mental Health First Aid “as common as CPR.” And that’s a great idea, and a necessary one.

What does the course involve?

Per the website, Mental Health First Aid will teach participants “risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.”

Mental Health First Aid covers a variety of topics, including depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis and substance abuse orders, and how you, as a normal person, can help someone who is experiencing some sort of mental illness.

There are actually different course types for adults and youth, which can be very helpful for young people who want to learn how to do more.

Who should take it?

Anyone who interacts with people!

Yeah, okay, that might be a little broad. Narrowing the range a bit, I’d argue that this course should be taken by anyone who regularly interacts with people that may be experiencing some sort of mental health crisis. This includes social workers, teachers. customer service representatives and more.

Of course, it goes beyond that. If you have family or friends who suffer, and often find yourself feeling completely powerless, this course can help you learn the skills necessary to help your loved ones get through whatever they are experiencing.

Where can I find a course?

How convenient!

The course isn’t a small commitment – it’s usually around eight hours, so it requires some time. That being said, is it worth it? Yeah, I think so. All of us probably know what it’s like to have a friend who is in agony that we can’t touch. Mental Health First Aid can help people learn the tools necessary to get their friend or family member through that hard moment. For those of us who hate that helpless sensation, this can be a useful tool that will give us the power and skills to care. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d say this is well worth it.


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