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Mental Health First Aid Hopes to Create Citizen First Responders

Posted by Brian Spence on Aug 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Mental Health First Aid, Behavioral Health, Healthcare StaffingYou don't have to be a trained physician to be able to respond to a person who is choking, or who has stopped breathing. Many people learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver as part of basic first aid training. There is a movement to develop similar training for sudden mental and emotional health distress as well.

Mental and emotional health distress can be intimidating for the average person in a way that other medical emergencies are not.

Training in Mental Health First Aid is designed to eliminate the fear that most people feel when they encounter someone who is struggling psychologically, and help them prioritize care.

According to the Boston Globe article, "The Promise and Limits of Mental Health First Aid" by Ruth Graham,
"First developed in Australia in 2001 by a nurse and professor, this training teaches a five-part “action plan”:

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  2. Listen non-judgmentally
  3. Give reassurance and information
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The hope is that citizen first responders can help bridge the gap that exists in this type of care worldwide. Some healthcare professionals are critical of the Mental Health First Aid approach, believing that it oversimplifies a very complicated situation.

Results of the training will continue to be seen as over 300,000 people have gone through this First Aid training in the United States and that number is sure to grow. Even if your medical training isn't in this field, it might be a good idea to learn some mental health strategies for situations you might encounter.

If you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health or Behavioral Health section of our blog.  Interested in job opportunities in the healthcare field?  Please contact us.

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Topics: Behavioral Health, Mental Health

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