Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Most people know how to recognize and appropriately react to medical emergencies, but there is little knowledge in the general public about what to do in a mental health crisis.Youth Mental Health First Aid introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and most importantly – teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
Just as CPR training helps a layperson with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives. The goal of Mental Health First Aid is to increase mental health literacy. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families; and learn information about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care. Participants receive a course manual and also a certificate at the completion of the course.
The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn a core five-step action plan to support an adolescent developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or in an emotional crisis:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
WHO SHOULD TAKE THE COURSE? Mental Health First Aid is intended for a variety of audiences: friends and family of individuals with mental illness or addiction, key professionals (such as police officers, HR directors and primary care workers), school and college leadership, faith communities, or anyone interested in learning more about mental illness and addiction. Mental Health First Aid training also reaches out to Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, hospitals, nursing homes, Rotary Clubs, parent organizations, social clubs and other groups who make up the fabric of a community. The core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to a variety of audiences including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement, and the general public. Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed for adults whom regularly interact with adolescents, but may also be appropriate for older adolescents (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction. Anyone who regularly works or interacts with youth – teachers, athletic coaches, mentors, juvenile justice professionals – may find the course content useful.
For more information, contact: Jill Stephens; HR Director; Permian Basin Community Centers; 432-570-3325; firstname.lastname@example.org
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