The Importance of Mental Health First Aid Training

by Dennis Kim

Photo Credit: Jude Beck

Mental health first aid (MHFA) is provided to people who are either experiencing a mental health crisis or who are developing a mental health problem. Just as physical first aid is used to handle an injured person before further medical treatment, MHFA is given until the crisis has been resolved or treatment has been found. The mental health first aid training program aims to teach mental health literacy and how to provide help to those experiencing mental health problems.

When and Where Did Mental Health First Aid Originate?

Mental health first aid was created in Australia in 2001 at the University of Melbourne. It was noted that the individuals and students who received preliminary training had a better understanding of mental health disorders and the interventions required for de-escalating a crisis. It was later adopted by the United States and is now overseen by the National Council for Behavioural Health. Over the years, MHFA has gathered mental health advocates, has helped spread awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Why is Mental Health First Aid Important?

Normally when people are physically injured, it’s easy to spot and we understand that this person needs help. Mental health on the other hand is trickier. It can be tougher to understand the symptoms and signs related to mental health as they can be more subtle. According to Mental Health First Aid Canada, ⅕ people will experience a mental health problem this year. Evidence has shown that MHFA participants increased their awareness of symptoms and signs of the most common mental health problems and knew how to respond. Not only does this program teach you how to recognize a crisis when it’s happening, it teaches the confidence of intervening and engaging with the person going through a mental health problem.

The Skills You Will Learn

Pacific First Aid’s mental health first aid training program is a 12 hour course split over two days. You will learn the skills necessary for substance overdose, suicidal behaviour, panic attack, acute stress reaction and psychotic episodes. Anyone can take this course as it can be applied in both personal and professional environments. The primary curriculum for MHFA was designed for adults but that doesn’t mean you can’t help youth. In recent years, it has been noted that ⅕ children ages 13-18 experiences or develops a mental health condition and suicides have increased (specifically among girls). In 2012, Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) was introduced. Both of these programs are essential for teaching and spreading awareness about the importance of mental health in both adults and children.

At Pacific First Aid, we offer this course to 10 people at a time and you can choose a date that works best for you. This program is an excellent tool for understanding more about mental health and the signs and symptoms to watch out for. With this mental health first aid course, you’ll have the confidence to help someone in need.