What is mental health first aid?
Mental health first aid is a simple 5-step support system that you can use on people who may need help with their mental health situation (such as changing moods, seeming distracted, etc). Just like with physical first aid, mental health first aid can be given by anyone who has familiarised themselves with the principles of first aid and has gone through mental health first aid training.
More than half of us have experienced increased stress levels during the coronavirus crisis. Excess stress can manifest as heightened anxiety, mood changes or sleep issues. It is important to deal with these problems as soon as possible by yourself, with help from your friends and family or with help from professionals.
Surveys have shown that people would first turn to their family members, friends or partners for support. It is important for us to notice when those close to us are having difficulties, that we are able to support them and, when necessary, lead them to professional help.
First aid can be given to anybody, be they someone who we see at school or work, a family member, someone at the gym, someone who lives on the same street or is in the same community as you.
By definition, mental health first aid is aid given to a person who is likely to develop a mental health problem, whose already present mental health issue is worsening or who is in a mental health crisis. Mental health first aid is given until appropriate professional help is found or the crisis is resolved. It is not meant to replace professional help, but it can help with widening the circle of people who are able to help take the first steps towards getting better and maybe even save a life while doing it.
The methods of mental health first aid are also being used in other countries like Australia, Finland, England and Portugal. Mental health first aid is not just a course. It provides a way of thinking that everyone is able to notice and support others in their community and through it, help create a better and caring society. In Estonia, mental health first aid courses are given by the teams of Peaasi.ee and Eesti Psühhosotsiaalse Rehabilitatsiooni Ühing (Estonian Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association). Our shared goal is to train at least 1% of the Estonian population to be able to give mental health first aid by 2022. Would you be interested in joining us help fulfil that goal? If so, you can acquaint yourself with the principles of mental health first aid on this website and sign up for the course!