Do you know how to perform emotional CPR?
One out of every five adults in America experiences a mental illness, but do you know how to best support someone in your life who might be struggling?
In a world where many struggle but not all receive help, Mental Health First Aid classes have been trying to equip people with the skills they need to recognize and help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
The Mental Health First Aid program was created in Australia in 2001 by a nurse specializing in health education and a respected mental health literacy professor.
“After completing the training, participants feel more comfortable addressing individuals or family members with mental health issues,” Nichole Edmonds, regional director of community health with Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., and Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says. “They also are able to identify if they have a mental health issue or concern themselves, which is extremely important.”
Since 2017, the department has implemented 17 trainings and trained over 250 community leaders, residents and health care professionals.
Each eight-hour training session covers several key mental health and addiction topics, including risk factors and warning signs for panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and mental health and substance abuse disorders. The training also covers ways in which individuals can address and receive help for mental health and substance disorder issues.
In addition, it gives participants a five-step action plan to help those who are struggling – ALGEE:
- Assess risk for suicide or harm.
- Listen nonjudgmentally.
- Give reassurance and information.
- Encourage appropriate professional help.
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
Edmonds says trainees leave not just with an increased comfort level around addressing mental health issues, but also are equipped with skills to identify ways to address a mental health crisis and direct individuals to support or emergency services.
“The first step toward improving your mental health is acknowledging you might need help and getting it, and having someone in your life assist you in that process can be very valuable,” she says.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.