Many jobs require you to be certified in first aid, where you learn how to help someone who is physically injured. However, mental health first aid is also available. Trix VanEgmond, the public health educator for the Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, has trained about 400 people on this subject.
“I think it’s worthwhile to learn something like mental health first aid. Not only for our own awareness, our own mental health, but also for our friends, our families [and] our potential colleagues.”
She says the course teaches people how to respond to crises such as overdoses, suicidal thoughts or acting on them and/or panic attacks.Unlike physical first aid, which has a tangible kit, most of mental health first aid is verbally helping someone while they go through a mental health crisis.
The course is about two days, and began in Australia. VanEgmond says there are plenty of courses available on mentalhealthfirstaid.ca. She adds that people from many walks of life, from performing arts to working in municipal government, have dropped by for a mental health first aid training session.
“Also, individuals come for their own personal needs to say that ‘My husband frequently struggles. My daughter struggles. I am a Girl Guide Leader and I want learn to help and identify earlier on.'”
VanEgmond says that it’s usually about $150 for the course, but her next one could be anywhere from June 2016 to sometime in the fall.
There are about 20 mental health first aid trainers in London, with most of them working at Western University or Fanshawe College.