What we really learned at Mental Health First Aid

Our mental health first aid course was incredible as we’ve talked about the last few blog posts, but what we haven’t talked about is the actual first aid itself.

Well, we’re not supposed to share with you everything we’ve learned, but here are a few highlights.

One: Assess the situation.

Is the person in immediate danger.

Did you know asking someone point blank if they’re suicidal doesn’t mean you’re going to push them over the edge? In fact, it can have the opposite effect, grounding the person in reality of what suicide is and how it’s an end to everything.

Of course there are other dangerous situations, including overdose, psychotic breaks, and self harm, which need to be dealt with in a similar, but different way.

Two: Offer support

If you’re talking to someone in crisis, you’re already offering support, but there are a few things you can do to go beyond just having a conversation.

Listen actively. You know that thing you learned in school, about getting engaged in the conversation with your body language, your responses, and really paying attention – yeah, active listening is huge.

Listen to receive information only – not to reply. We too often are looking for a place to talk about ourselves in a conversation, and that’s not helpful.

Pro Tip: Don’t start talking about your own experiences. It diminishes the crisis when you offer how you dealt with the loss of a loved one, or how you got over your breakup. It’s about really offering an ear and understanding words to the person in crisis.

Communicate, don’t compare!

Three: Get help

There are so many resources out there to help people with mental health – pages and pages of them were handed to us in our mental health first aid course and they were all valuable. Yes, wait times are long, and it can take a while to find the right doctor, medication, treatment for you, but there are short-term measures that can make a difference. Seek them out. Know about at least one emergency mental health measure … like the Warm Line 1-855-753-2560.

Also, if you’re the caregiver, after offering that support – especially for an extended period of time – you need help too. Partake in self care, talk to your friends who are as supportive as you are, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your own mental health resources because you can’t take care of someone else if you’re not taking care of yourself.

What We Really Learned

Overall, the big takeaway from Mental Health First Aid is to better care for each other.

We all have mental health and we all have to struggle with it on different levels. We’ll talk more about sharing and not comparing in a few weeks, but for now, reach out. Connect. Care about and for the people around you.

They may need it more than you think.

And if you’re interested in taking the Mental Health First Aid course, get in touch with the Canadian Mental Health Commission.