Mental Health First Aid: Become a First Responder to Someone in a Mental Health Crisis
By Howard Cohen, Clinical Services Coordinator for Jewish Family Service
How many of us have had to take a class in CPR for work? And, have you noticed an increase in the businesses that have a defibrillator available if someone is faced with a cardiac event?
We also have first aid kits that help to provide quick medical attention in case of an emergency, so why not have some Mental Health First Aid available when someone is feeling overly sad or anxious?
“Mental Health First Aid training helps a person 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. Mental Health First Aiders learn a single 5-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help and other supports. 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 about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.”
This information was brought to CBB’s Mental Wellness Initiative committee by member, Jane Honikman and I recently attended the class at the Mental Wellness Center. I found it be very helpful to create empathy and understanding around this complex topic. Please see our webpage on the CBB website to learn more about our committee. www.cbbsb.org/engage/mental-wellness/
Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it does build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs
I am not recommending that mental health clinicians take the course, necessarily, but our committee feels that anyone who meets directly with the public on a daily basis should consider attending. We also feel that CBB family members might benefit from the education and knowledge included in the program.
Classes are held on certain Saturdays at the Mental Wellness Center here in Santa Barbara. Please check out their website for the amazing programs they offer to our community. And, reach out to Debbie Terhune at the Mental Wellness Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule attending a class. www.mentalwellnesscenter.org
Feel free to contact me directly with any question about the program at email@example.com. The cost is $45, but the information could be priceless in helping out someone in need.