Anyone can be affected by mental health issues, whether that is you, a friend, a family member or a colleague. Mental wounds are often not as clearly visible as physical wounds but they can be just as painful.
First Aid for physical emergencies is a well understood and supported concept. In case of a medical emergency, bystanders are ready to call an ambulance as part of appropriate first aid measures. First aid for mental health problems however is not well established yet. Even worse, when a person is deeply desperate, nobody knows what to do, not family, not friends, not colleagues.
First Aid for Mental Health courses were first developed in Australia in the early 2000s. Together with her husband psychology Professor Tony Jorm, Betty Kitchener, a trained teacher, counsellor and nurse, founded the mental health first aid training, a programme which has spread to many countries worldwide.
The aim of First Aid for Mental Health workshops and trainings is
- to provide information about mental illnesses
- for everyone to be able to offer first aid support
- to give participants the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
- to improve the confidence and the skills of family members, friends and co-workers to recognise signs of mental ill health
- to encourage people to start a conversation with a person who may be experiencing a mental health issue
- for family members, friends and co-workers to be able to guide those affected towards appropriate support
- to enhance interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental (active) listening
- to give participants the practical skills to spot triggers and signs of mental health issues
The courses also help to destigmatise mental illness.
As a qualified Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructor, Luitgard offers a variety of programmes to communities and employers:
- Short online or onsite First Aid for Mental Health Awareness sessions to reduce stigma and give the community an idea of the impact of mental health conditions.
- Half-day training courses to boost knowledge and confidence in dealing with mental health issues
- Two-day Workplace Mental Health First Aider courses for in-depth understanding of mental health, factors that can affect wellbeing and steps to reassure and support a person in distress