Welcome to my weekly A-Z of Mental Illness. Each week I will be writing about a mental health topic that correlates with a letter of the alphabet. I have a few people doing guest posts along the way as well, just so you don’t have to listen to me drone on every week. I hope that through this alphabet of Mental Illness I will be able to spread a bit more awareness.
F is for First Aid
When someone mentions First Aid, my first thought is for physical ailements. First aid to me is bandages, ointments, splints and things to heal the body. However there is also First Aid for the mind. Steps to take in order to keep someone safe who is in the middle of an episode, whether that be depressive, suicidal or psychotic. There is specific guidelines for each kind of episode, steps to keep both the patient and those around them safe.
Unlike physical First Aid, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) focuses on how someone is feeling, their thoughts and immediate actions that can be taken to minimise the effects of these. MHFA also places a focus on the people around the patient and how to minimise harm as a whole. The guidelines for a depressive episode and a psychotic episode, while possessing the same fundamental basics, have very different steps to ensure the safety of those people directly affected by the patients actions.
The guidelines set out by the organisation of MHFA for depression and suicidal ideation involve talking to the person, and assertaining the risk for harm. The guidelines suggest not leaving the person alone, offering reasurance and encouraging them to seek help. These steps outline ways to help while the person is in the midst of an episode and so it is recommended that the person receive professional help in order to determine the risk to themselves over the long term. The pamphlets reiterate the need to reassure the depressed individual that it is ok to feel depressed and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
The MHFA has guidelines on a range of Mental Health issues including self harm, eating disorders and trauma. Along with these online resources the organisation also offers a range of courses that can be delivered as a 2 day course or a series of 4 modules. These courses are open to anyone over the age of 18. The courses are also geared towards professional development for areas in health who deal with Mental Illness on a regular basis including social organisations. While MHFA do not centrally coordinate courses simply follow this link to organise a course in your area. Each course attendant receives a MHFA manual which can also be purchased through the online shop.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues please contact your GP or for confidential advice contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
Check out the rest of the alphabet here