Mental health fist aid
Mental health fist aid is a response to people facing a crisis in mental health. We are familiarized with immediate assistance in case of illness or injury. Likewise, we should understand the importance of mental health first aid.
Whether we are in a difficult situation or our friend, colleague, the first step is to recognize the signs of the crisis and know hot to react.
People with diagnosed mental illnesses may have encountered a mental health crisis or a worsening of an existing problem that led them to seek help, get diagnosed or get treated. However anyone can encounter such crisis. In that case we can feel confused, stressed and vulnerable. An immediate help is advasable. Signs can implicate serious anxiety, depression, and difficulties in everyday activities and work tasks.
We can all live and experience the crisis differently. Some of us can feel ashamed and the are avoiding contact with close ones, feeling extremely powerless and unable to participate in everyday life as usual. The differences in experiencing mental health crisis are through age spectrum and genders, every one of us can have a specific experience. Self-harm and suicide signs can be an extreme axample of such crisis.
We can all benefit from recognizing signs of worsening mental health and from learning the basic steps, to help ourselves or our friend or a member of the family to better cope with the situation. If you feel that you cannot help or that you are not ready to help the best way is to seek professional help. It asks lots of courage and strength to ask for help when needed.
Awareness of changes in children's behaviour
Here are some main signs and symptoms which can indicate a child may be having a mental health crisis and could benefit from help and support:
- Mood changes featuring sadness or withdrawal which damage relationships (e.g. lack of friends) and/or last longer than 2 weeks
- Increased tardiness or absences
- More intense feelings of anger, anxiety, fear, sadness or euphoria
- Changes in behavior or personality (especially risky behavior, substance abuse, fighting)
- Poor concentration, being constantly distracted, distant, unresponsive, or disconnected
- Unexpected weight changes, frequent vomiting, repeated bathroom visits, chronic headaches, or stomach problems
- Self-harm behaviors, suicidal thoughts or ideas
Read more in the handout: Signs and symptoms of child and adolescent mental health problems.
Tips for talking to children and adolescents about mental health problems
Prevention and readiness (including crisis response plan, tips for talking about mental health problems)
Talking openly about mental health with children is really important: if they’re aware of what mental health problems are, it will help them to understand their own wellbeing and what’s going on with their family and friends. It can be difficult to know where to start, but being open about mental health will really pay off. Important tips to remember when talking to children and adolescents are:
- Making the discussion relatable is vital to building a safe, honest conversation for young people.
- How and where you choose to talk is important - a comfortable, relaxed and non-confrontational environment is key.
- Talking about sensitive subjects does not make kids more vulnerable - discussing difficult topics is helpful, not hurtful to children and adolescents who are struggling.
Read more in the handout: how to talk to children and adolescents about mental health.
Crisis and possible response to it
- and 2. Vodáčková, D. (2009). Krizová intervence: Krize v životě člověka. Formy krizové pomoci a služeb. PORTÁL sro.