The first response to a medical emergency that saves a life or prevents further harm is first aid. The significance of first aid is well known. At least 5 out of 10 people are aware of the basic first aid for a physical injury or cardiac arrest.
Okay, here is a big deal. What if you have got something to deal with a mental health problem? Are you skilled enough to provide the same aid when you see an extremely anxious, stressed, or depressed person?
Have you got any first aid kit at home or workplace for mental health issues?
Okay, here I come for your rescue with a short guide on First aid for mental health problems.
Why do we need “Mental health first aid”?
Every one of us experiences mental health issues in our day to day life. Some of us have the innate ability to cope with it effectively, Wheres many individuals continue to suffer from several mental illnesses. Due to the prevalence of stigma about mental illness, no one opens up about their struggles. In such a case, a prompt help of being supportive and encouraging them to seek professional care could save them from further harm.
Who can be a First aider for mental health?
Anybody who is interested in connecting with people and actively extends help to a person in distress can be a mental health first aider.
How to identify Mental Health Problems?
As a mental health first aider, one ought to possess adequate knowledge of the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. Here is a list of possible signs of mental health problems:
- Looking Dull and Listless
- Looking sad
- Exhibiting lack of interest in surroundings
- Crying Spells
- Talking of death and dying or suicidal behavior
- Withdrawal from social gatherings or sudden aloofness
- Anger outbursts or aggression
- Unusual and unexpected behavior
- Worrisome changes in Hygiene and personal appearance
- Chronic fatigue
- Grinding of teeth, stuttering, trembling of hands and lips more often
If you notice any of the above signs, the person is probably suffering from any one of the mental health issues, and they certainly need help.
Procedure for Mental Health First Aid:
As a society, we continue to be ignorant of mental health issues. We fail to give the medical attention it deserves. So, first aid plays a vital role in rescuing them from distress and support them to knock it out. Mental health first aid is a simple and effective technique. The steps for first aid are as follows:
1. Establish Rapport – Approach the person with empathy and try to establish rapport. Build conversations and try to make the person feel comfortable to open up. The person may take time to confide in you. So, allow them the time and space they need to open up.
2. Be Supportive / Empathize – Most of the individuals lack support while struggling with mental illness. In such situations, ask them, How can I help? Let them know you care. Listen to them with intention, try to understand, and validate their feelings. In some instances, When the individual is reluctant to speak, Just sitting with them and letting them know you are available is also a way of being supportive.
3. Avoid Being Judgemental – While trying to help people suffering from mental issues, you should not let your views, values, and opinions dominate the conversation. Always approach them with a non-judgemental attitude. Never belittle their feelings or interrupt while they talk. Refrain from asking too many probing questions, and do not jump in with solutions. Instead, try to make more supportive statements and allow them to ventilate the issues bothering them.
4. Encourage Professional Help – Sometimes, people experiencing mental health problems, may not be aware that help exists. And if you recognize someone who needs professional help, provide them the information as to where and how they could obtain treatment. Apparently, in this digital era, Finding a suitable Psychiatrist or a counseling psychologist is easy. And the Psychiatrists listed in Three Best Rated® are renowned and reliable. Assure the person it is perfectly acceptable to seek professional help and instill the hope that they would feel better after therapy.
5. Build up coping strategies – In addition to the medications and psychotherapy, Help individuals to enhance their coping skills by expanding their social network. Encourage them to indulge in their favorite hobbies or volunteering for a social cause. Assist them in strengthening their crisis management skills.
It would also help the person if you could keep in touch with them and occasionally check them to know if they need further assistance.