New First-Aid Courses Tackle Mental Health Emergencies


You know what to do if your roommate cuts her finger cooking dinner, but what if she has a panic attack? The truth is, many of us aren’t equipped to deal with mental health crises, even if we’d like to offer help. But the organization Mental Health First Aid is hoping to change that.

It’s put together an all-day course to teach everyone about common mental health problems. It’s full of actionable takeaways, so you’ll know when someone is struggling and how to help them. Even more important, the class is designed to help you be more comfortable in these often tense situations and lessen the “crazy-person” stigma surrounding mental illness. Students learn to help people using the action plan ALGEE, which stands for:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Listen non-judgmentally
Give reassurance and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage self-help and other support strategies

These steps aren’t perfect for every incident involving mental illness, and they don’t make you qualified to diagnose someone, but you can at least use them to guide others in the right direction. And with nearly one in five Americans struggling with mental illness, these moments happen more than you think.

Mental Health First Aid offers classes throughout the country. Click below to find one in your area.

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(h/t The Atlantic)

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