Mental health first aid
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches the same skills for mental illness as basic first aid uses for someone experiencing a physical health problem. This is the help you can give before professional treatment arrives.
MHFA improves mental health literacy and can help you to:
- recognise signs and symptoms in someone with a mental health problem
- respond to various mental health crisis situations
- engage with and support the person
- direct people to appropriate professional help
How to help someone going through a mental health crisis
During a mental health crisis a person may be:
- feeling suicidal
- having anxiety attacks
- in an acute stress reaction
- out of touch with reality in a distressing psychotic state
General strategies you can use to help
- Introduce yourself and explain why you are present.
- Remain courteous and non threatening, but be honest and direct.
- Listen to the person in a non judgmental way.
- Avoid confrontation at all costs – be prepared to "agree to differ" with the person's perspective.
- Clarify and address what the person sees as the major issues first (not what you, the helper, see as the major concerns).
- Do not attempt to manhandle the person, except to prevent serious assault or suicide attempts.
- Encourage / assist person to receive professional mental health help.
- Finally, if the incident was traumatic for you, or you feel anxious or distressed, discuss these issues with a friend or a professional service.