Many Canadians know how to recognize and provide first aid to someone with a physical injury, but what about those with a possible mental illness? Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) gives people the skills to identify an emerging mental health program or crisis, provide initial help, and guide the person to appropriate professional help if needed. The program was initally developed at University of Melbourne in Australia and has since been review by Canadian experts and adapted for the Canadian population.
MHFA Canada joined the MHCC (Mental Health Commission of Canada) in early 2010. Since that time, the number of MHRA Instructors has doubled from 250 to more than 500. The number of mental health first aiders across Canada has also increased to over 40,000 and continues to grow.
The acronym that is taught to participants is:
It is important to note that MHFA does not teach people how to be therapists or psychologists. It teaches ordinary Canadians how to look for signs and symptoms of a developing mental health problem or a mental health crisis in a family member, friend, or colleague and teaches them how to guide that person to seek professional help from practitioners such as psychologists. It can be a particularly valuable tool for a range of professionals such as healthcare workers, emergency service workers, and human resource staff.
For more information on the program or how you can become a mental health first aid instructor, you can visit www.mental healthfirstaid.ca