With more and more Australians struggling with mental health problems, St John Ambulance SA has for the first time introduced a first aid training program concentrating specifically on mental health.
The State’s leading and most trusted provider of first aid services has added the two-day course to its suite of ‘traditional’ first aid training programs, in response to growing demand and interest from the public.
St John SA CEO, Ray Creen, said the benefits of standard first aid were commonly understood and accepted by the community, but mental health issues were more complex and often hidden, so a different approach was necessary.
“Mental health problems are clearly very common – with almost half the Australian population (45.5 per cent*) expected to experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime,” said Mr Creen.
“However, many people don’t seek help, realise that they need help or know that effective help is available.”
“It’s therefore important that more people are trained to identify problems and help support a work colleague, family member or friend when the time comes.
“A helper’s actions can have a huge impact, and may determine how quickly the person gets help or recovers… or even avert a tragedy,” he said.
The St John two-day course targets two things – early detection of mental health conditions developing and how to assist, and managing someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis or breakdown.
According to peak non-government organisation, Mental Health Australia, at least one in five Australians are living with a mental illness at any given time.
Specialist Mental Health Trainer, Rae-Anne Holloway, who delivers the new course for St John, said that mental health first aid training was a developing area and had been growing in popularity across the nation and worldwide.
“Many of us are trained in first aid but – thankfully – we rarely have to use it. With mental health first aid however, we will all need to use it regularly, in everyday life,” said Ms Holloway.
“We are all dealing with people and so we are all affected, either directly or indirectly, by mental health issues. There’s a great need for us to have both an understanding of these issues and the ability to help people.
“Being trained gives people strong skills to recognise the signs of mental health conditions early, effective strategies to assist, and the confidence to use them,” she said.
St John’s mental health first aid course is available for adults (18 years and over), is based on mental health guidelines and is accredited by Mental Health First Aid Australia. It covers developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety problems, psychosis and substance abuse problems.
Participants learn how to provide help, where and how to get professional help, which approach is most effective according to scientific research, and how to provide mental health first aid using seven common crisis situations, such as aggressive behaviours, panic attacks, and suicidal behaviours.
The course can be customised for workplaces so managers and employees can better understand mental health issues, and address those issues in a work environment, if required.
For information about St John’s new Mental Health First Aid training, or to book a course, visit the St John SA website.
World Mental Health Day is on Saturday, 10 October 2015.