Mental health crises are an overlooked problem in the US. They very often become stigmatized and yet they are more common than the majority of the population realizes. Mental illnesses and disorders are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
For this reason, civilians in cities and communities should be more aware, and should be able to look for signs in someone when things do not seem right. For example, sudden changes in a person’s behavior should be alarm bells for others. Because in the same way that someone having the knowledge of CPR can help a person in an emergency, the knowledge of what to do when someone is having a mental health crisis is also extremely important. Knowing how to treat a sensitive situation when a family member, friend, or even a stranger is having a mental breakdown, or making rash decisions due to a disorder, is crucial and can be life-saving. However, most people would not know where to begin if they found themselves needing to help someone. Hence the Mental Health First Aid Program was founded. It is operated by the National Council for Behavioral Health in partnership with the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Mental Health First Aid is a program that offers a course to communities to teach people how to help someone in a mental crisis, and also how to connect them to proper care. The course is usually taught in an 8 hour class, and can be taken in one day or split into two days. It is taught by a certified instructor and open to anyone who wishes to learn. Visit MHFA’s website to find a class near you.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to mental disorders from ages 13 to 18. Some local mental health groups and counseling services also offer Youth Mental Health First Aid, which is the same course, but concentrates on the different ways of handling mental crises in youth.
Image Credit: Dior Vargas