by Comprehensive Staff
Picture this: You’re loading groceries from your shopping cart into your car when you’re startled by a man yelling at a car a few parking spaces away. As you look closer, you see that the car is completely empty, and in fact, there isn’t anyone near him at all. The man is gesticulating wildly, shouting profanity, and seems to be arguing with someone only he can see. You contemplate just shaking it off and heading home, that is, until you see an elderly woman pushing her cart toward the man. The car he is yelling at clearly belongs to the woman. You’re concerned that the man may become even more upset if the woman attempts to get in her car and drive away. Do you know what to do next?
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a program designed to give the average person the skills and confidence to identify and respond to signs of mental illness. Just as many people learn CPR and basic medical first aid, so too can people learn to provide basic mental health crisis intervention. Though MHFA trainings are most often given to social service professionals, educators, and law enforcement, these trainings are valuable to anyone who regularly interacts with the public.
In the 8-hour course, attendees are given an overview of common mental illnesses and are trained on intervention strategies. These trainings are meant to be supportive and interactive, giving attendees an opportunity to practice constructive ways of engaging with someone who is showing signs of mental or behavioral distress. In addition to MHFA for adults, there is a separate training called Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) that focuses on responding appropriately to the unique mental and behavioral challenges experienced by adolescents. Considering that half of all people to develop a mental disorder will have their first episode by age 14, with three quarters of mental disorders present by age 24*, this training helps to intervene at a crucial point in teens’ development.
Given the prevalence of mental illness, with 1 in 5 people experiencing a mental disorder*, becoming trained in MHFA can make a big impact on your community. Comprehensive offers both adult and youth MHFA trainings in the communities we serve. If you’re interested in attending a training, contact Jim Pinnell at 509-573-3607 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about MHFA, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.
*According to studies conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.