Mental Health First Aid
You may have learned CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. But can you administer First Aid in a mental health crisis? It’s easy to tell when someone might be suffering from a heart attack, is choking, or is unable to breathe. But what would you do if you met someone experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Although millions of people have completed CPR classes, it’s actually more likely that someone will encounter a person in an emotional or mental crisis than a person having a heart attack. Mental disorders are more common than heart disease and cancer combined.
It’s for these reasons that Mental Health First Aid was started in Australia and came to the United States four years ago. The interactive, 12-hour program teaches people how to give first aid to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis situation and/or who are in the early stages of a mental health disorder.
Here at NAMI DuPage, the entire staff and most of the Board of NAMI DuPage participated in the Mental Health First Aid course here at our office. The course was taught by certified staff members of Linden Oaks Hospital and Mary Dalton our Program Coordinator. Participants learned the signs and symptoms of the most common mental health problems, where and when to get help, and what type of help has been shown to be effective.
The strength of Mental Health First Aid is the 5-step action plan to help connect an individual in crisis to professional care:
Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Give reassurance and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage self-help and other support strategies
After taking the 12-hour course, the Board and employees of NAMI DuPage are now certified Mental Health First Aiders who have the means to help persons with mental illness get the help they need.
We will host more classes in the near future. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid go to www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.