Learn mental health first aid
One in five people living in the US have a mental health problem, but most don’t seek out professional help. When someone is suffering with mental health issues, it is most often their friends, family or co-workers that first witness and have to handle any mental health crisies. The trouble is, however, that many of us don’t know what to do in these types of situations. It’s really not common sense to know exactly what to say, and how to say it to someone who is struggling with something that we can’t see and might not understand. That is where Mental Health First Aid workshops comes in. There are organizations out of the US and Canada (and worldwide) that train citizens on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of various mental illnesses—from depression to anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorder. Participants learn how to listen non judgmentally and de-escalate crisis situations. In addition, they receive a list of mental health and substance abuse resources.
If you are interested in taking one of these courses, simply google Mental Health First Aid training, to find courses near you. There aren’t many online courses because it’s best to practice the situations with mental health professionals and get feedback on how you handle the various scenarios. If you can’t take the training (they are usually one full day), here is an acronym that many of the courses teach that represent the various steps you should take if you ever find yourself dealing with someone in a mental health crisis.
“A” stands for “assess for risk of harm or suicide.” Ask if someone is thinking of harming themselves.
“L” stands for “listen non-judgmentally.” You should listen, not interrupt or offer advice, and really try to hear what they’re saying without judgment.
“G” is for “give information and reassurance.” Try to give them a resource in your area that they can go to, phone numbers like Kids Help Phone or Crisis Text Line.
“E” is for “encourage professional help if needed.” Tell them that it might be a good idea to seek out the help of a professional.
“E” is for “encourage self-help.” It’s important that they buy into their own recovery and realize know one is going to do the hard work for them.