Break the Stigma – Would You Know? (Part 2)
If you saw someone laying on the ground with a broken leg you’d probably know what to do for them, but if your co-worker, friend or family member was struggling mentally would you know how to help them?
In 2017, the CAS added a mental health component to their guidelines, and at Life Start First Aid and Safety Training, we couldn’t be happier. About 50 % of Canadians, by the age of 40, will have or have had some form of mental illness. At Life Start, we are taking mental health education, as we do with physical health, very seriously.
What is mental health first aid? Mental health first aid is providing help to a person with a developing mental illness. Unlike a physical injury or illness, you won’t see a tangible injury like you would with a burn or cut. Therefore, the first step will most likely be identifying that someone is struggling. Some of the signs and symptoms you can look out for are as follows:
∙ Feelings of sadness or feeling upset
∙ Unable to meet daily commitments
∙ Looking exhausted
∙ Not returning phone calls, emails or text messages
∙ Irritability and or changes in behaviour
∙ Changes in appetite and eating habits
∙ Loss of interest in hobbies
∙ Inability to concentrate or cope with daily life
∙ Self-harm or suicidal thoughts
∙ Alcohol or drug dependency
As with physical first aid, the first priority is always your own safety. Assess the situation to ensure your safe and that the person is not going to harm themselves or others, call 911 if needed or call these other mental health resources:
● Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 pm to 12 am ET).
● Kids Help Phone Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.
● Hope for Wellness Help Line Call 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free)
● The VAC Assistance Service can provide you with psychological support. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is for Veterans, former RCMP members, their families, and caregivers. 1-800-268-7708
What can you do to help someone with mental health issues?
● Show Compassion. Start by listening to the person without judgement, listen to understand their feelings. Listen without telling your own story or without giving judgemental advice such as just choose to be happy. Validate their feelings, tell them you hear them.
● Give Support to them by offering to help them find resources that best serve their needs. Many mental health organizations offer some free resources, classes or support groups. Their physician may be able to recommend a therapist or psychiatrist.
● Suggest they practice self-care. Self-care could mean saying no to commitments, it could be rest or exercise, it could be meditation or self-help books or even classes. Understand what self-care may mean to them.
● Encourage them to seek professional help.
Some ideas that may help to increase the feel-good chemicals in your brain:
● Walking in nature
● Sitting in the sun (with sunscreen of course)
● Eating dark Chocolate (so have that piece of chocolate it’s for your mental health)
● Listening to music: create a feel-good playlist.
● Keeping a journal
● Asking for help
● Focusing on self-care
● Talking to your healthcare professional
At Life Start Training and First Aid, we take mental health issues very seriously. We are passionate about educating our students on mental health first aid and we are committed to updating our training programs as new recommendations for both physical and mental health are introduced.