In the past first aid training focused mainly on medical emergencies but a recent policy called the Mental Health First Aid Act is providing funding for mental health emergency training as well. Certain professions may require employees to receive training in how to recognize and cope with a mental health emergency so that they can provide first aid and support to prevent a crisis. Mental health emergencies occur all the time and it important for people in certain positions to be prepared when they come up.
Mental health first aid training teaches staff how to recognize symptoms of common mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders so that they develop something called “mental health literacy”. They need to be able to understand risk factors and warning signs that indicate when someone is experiencing severe symptoms of a mental illnesses. When they can recognize symptoms of addiction and specific illnesses they will be more prepared in coping with a crisis.
Training programs for mental health emergencies also teach staff a number of different strategies for coping with general and specific kinds of crises. They can learn the best ways to de-escalate a crisis and get the individual connected to their caregiver or get them to a safe place. They will also learn when and how to refer them to mental health and substance abuse resources in the area including emergency services.
Mental health first training is crucial because many people are not familiar with what a mental health crisis looks like. They may not know what to do or how to handle an emergency situation. This kind of training can help prevent harm both to the individual experiencing the crisis and those around them when it occurs.
Although certain positions may require this kind of training, everyone can benefit from learning how to handle a mental health crisis.