There are many reasons why people who live or work with young people need training in mental health first aid, these include:
• being able to detect problems early
• helping to tackle stigma
• helping young people to recognise problems
• providing guidance
• providing immediate assistance.
Mental health problems and illness can first develop during childhood and adolescence. When mental health problems start at an early stage, they can have a significant impact on the young person’s life. They can affect education, job prospects, motivation and the development of key relationships (such as finding a partner) and can lead to dependency on alcohol and other substances. Therefore, it is so important to detect problems early to help ensure young people are properly supported to make positive choices.
Sometimes people are worried that being trained as a mental health first aider will mean that they have to take responsibility for others even when this is too emotionally demanding or time-consuming. This is an understandable concern, but it is based on a misconception. People trained in mental health first aid are ordinary people who have been trained in what to do during a mental health crisis.
A key thing to remember is that although the first aider has been trained how to respond, they are never obliged to intervene.
Participants will gain increased knowledge and awareness of mental health issues, as well as improved confidence in:
• Being able to detect problems early
• Helping to reduce stigma around mental health issues
• Helping young people to recognise problems
• Providing guidance and immediate assistance to a young person in crisis.
The course does not train you to become a counsellor or mental health professional. It is designed to teach you to better understand mental health and how it affects young people, as well as to learn mental health first aid skill such as:
• how to recognise the signs of mental health problems or distress
• how to ask about mental distress
• how to provide initial support
• how to guide a person towards appropriate professional help.
The course also aims to show how mental health first aid can be applied in a crisis situation involving a range of common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide and substance misuse.
The session is followed by a multiple-choice assessment designed to test learners’ understanding of the course.
Test results are usually disclosed within two working days after attending the training. A certificate will be issued after the successful completion of the training course.