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What is Mental Health First Aid?


Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices… Everyone has mental health.

The term mental illness covers a very broad range of mental health problems which can involve changes to our thoughts, emotions, behaviours and relationships with others. Mental illnesses are associated with distress and problems functioning in our day-to-day lives (social, work, family etc.)… Mental illness is treatable.


WHAT IS FIRST AID FOR MENTAL HEALTH?

First aid for mental health is the initial support provided to a person experiencing a mental health problem until professional help is received or until the crisis is resolved.

The aims of first aid for mental health:

Preserve life where a person could be a danger to themselves or others

Alleviate suffering by providing immediate comfort and support

Prevent the condition from developing into a more serious problem

Promote recovery of good mental health by signposting and obtaining professional support


ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE first aider FOR MENTAL HEALTH

A point of contact for anyone experiencing a mental health problem

Identifying the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health

Start supportive conversations

Listen non-judgementally and provide reassurance

Assess the risk of self-harm and suicide

Signpost and encourage professional support

Reduce mental health stigma

Summon for the appropriate emergency services if necessary

Maintain confidentiality


THE IMPACT OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

Day-to-day: Mental ill-health can affect many areas of your life and have an impact on your family

Physical health: Mental illness can impair your ability to protect and develop your physical well-being

Work: Obtaining or maintaining a job may be more difficult when symptoms of a mental health condition make it harder for you to function normally

Education: Studying may be more difficult when living with a mental health condition and often students do not reach their true potential

Driving: Mental health conditions themselves do not stop people from driving. However, certain medications that the person may be taking will influence the decision

Parenting & children: Mental illness can affect relationships and family life. Certain medications can also have an affect on pregnancy Stigma: Stigma can create barriers for people to seek help for their mental health condition and can make their situation much worse


MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA

Stigma – a set of prejudicial attitudes and values, which may lead to discriminatory behaviours.

In the context of mental health, there are two main types of stigma:

Social stigma: Includes the negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours that society or particular individuals hold towards those with mental health problems

Self-stigma: This is where people with mental health problems believe what is being said about their condition and agree with their viewpoints


THE EFFECTS OF STIGMA

There are a number of adverse effects caused by stigma, including:

Fear of disclosing to peers that you have a problem

Reluctance to seek professional support

Victimisation, harassment and physical violence

Difficulties finding employment and taking part in activities

Lack of understanding from family and friends

Develop a practice of self-stigmatisation


COPING WITH STIGMA

No individual should have to tolerate others treating them differently because of a mental health condition. Here are some points to help combat stigma:

Seek professional help - don't let the fear of being ‘labelled’ with a mental illness stop you

Show your family and friends reliable information to improve their understanding

Don’t equate yourself with your condition

Join a support group to talk about stigma and relate to others

Organise local campaigns or get involved with national campaigns


MENTAL HEALTH STATISTICS

One in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year.

1/2 of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14

Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year in England and £10.8 billion a year in Scotland

In 2018 in Great Britain, there were 595,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety leading to 15.4 million working days lost


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