Mental And Physical First Aid

We hear a lot about First Aid.   There’s now even a free global smartphone app that alerts responders nearby to someone in cardiac arrest.  Called GoodSAM,  it’s linked to the Triple 000 call centre and will send a notification as soon as an ambulance is dispatched.  You can read more about it here and see if it is available in your area.

But what of Mental Health First Aid?  That’s what Betty Kitchener and her husband, Professor Tony Jorm, pondered as they walked their dog along a path in Canberra some time ago.

Grey and white dog walking along a country road
Photo: Nikolay Tchaouchev

Physical Health First Aid is important, but so too is Mental Health First Aid.

Every year 20% of Australians will experience a mental illness.  It’s said that not everyone is able to assist someone with a mental illness, due to not knowing how to assist or not having the confidence to assist. 

That’s where Betty and Tony’s idea developed.

The innovative couple developed a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course. In Australia the course has been rolled out to every state and territory as well as to over 25 countries.  Their aim was to ‘improve the mental health literacy of the community’.

Man with watch on writing in notebook with computer in background
Photo: Alejandro Escamilla

‘It’s amazing what benefits come from walking your dog!’, Betty told me when I interviewed her recently.

There are five Mental Health First Aid courses.

One of them is the ‘Older Person Mental First Aid’ course.  It is aimed at assisting people 65 and over who may be experiencing a ‘mental health problem or a mental health crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves, using a practical, evidence based Action Plan.’

Black spectacles in background on wooden desk with brown fountain pen on notebook.
Photo: David Travis

This course is said to be of interest to ‘ any interested adult, particularly those who work with, live with or care for older people, including families and carers’.

Have a look at their Mental Health First Aid informative website. It’s full of ideas, suggestions, courses, background and mention of current skilled Mental Health First Aid workplaces – to name a few of the resources.

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