Our Osteopath Megan Rogerson, gives her take-aways and thoughts after doing a Mental Health First Aid course last week. She is a keen sports person, she loves nothing better than getting on her horse, or doing a gym work out! She
Last week Becky and I took part in a mental health first aid course. It was run by a lovely lady called Andrea at 1066 training. With everything that is going on at the moment I felt this was an important course to participate in, from both a professional and personal point of view.
What is mental health?
The definition given to us was emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Mental illness encompasses a very broad range of problems in which every one is treatable. The point was stressed that mental health is very broad, for example depression can range from a minor episode through to a diagnosable disorder.
The role of a mental health first aider is similar to any other first aider.
● Preserving life where a person could be a danger to themselves or others
● Alleviate suffering/ comfort and support
● Prevent the condition from developing
● Promote recovery
● Help someone obtain the correct professional support
Firstly, we went through the warning signs and what to look out for in people who you think may be suffering from mental health issues. This included withdrawing, not replying to messages, not getting out of bed, behaviour which is out of character, anger, falling out with people, being absent/ preoccupied. The list goes on, however one of the take home messages was that there may not be any warning signs that someone is struggling.
The group went through a number of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. We were shown this short film to better understand how someone with depression may be feeling. What I got from learning about depression, is that simply being there for someone is enough, as opposed to trying to fix it for them. Offering them a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen is all you need to do, along with supporting them in getting the help that they need. Andrea, the course leader also stressed how important exercise is in helping with depression. Even if it’s just going for a short walk.
Anxiety – It was amazing how many people could relate to this and were happy to share their story, myself included. We were taught this simple exercise called grounding to help someone who may be having a panic attack. List 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
The final mental health condition we then went through was suicide. In 2019, 5821 people committed suicide. Of those people 75% of those were male.
Risk factors for suicide include-
● Previous suicide attempts
● Mental health problems
● History of abuse
● Losing a loved one to suicide
● Drug /alcohol misuse
● Bullying and discrimination
● Financial problems or homelessness
Lastly, we went over how to start a conversation with someone who you think may be suffering with mental health problems. Thinking carefully about what to say can really help. Asking open and probing questions to understand exactly what they are going through and how they are feeling. It is important to listen very carefully about what they are saying, remember, it may be difficult to hear what they say especially if they’re a loved one. Allow time for reflection afterwards. Provide advice and signpost to the appropriate professional help.
I appreciate this blog may be difficult for someone to read. If you are struggling or you know someone who is struggling, we at Back2balance are here for you. Some helpful charities are the Samaritans and Out of the Blue