A new kind of first aid being provided at Waypoint
A new kind of first aid being provided at Waypoint
Posted on 10/22/2015
A new kind of first aid being provided at Waypoint
Course focuses on how to help someone who is showing signs of a mental health problem or crisis

Research shows that 1 in 3 Canadians will experience a mental health crisis at some point in their lives. So the chances are good that each of us knows someone with a mental health problem such as a substance-related disorder, depression, anxiety, or a psychotic disorder.Sheila Cascagnette from Waypoint on left and Janet Belcourt from La Clé de l'emploi Employment Services on right with Mental Health First Aid trainers Susan Lalonde Rankin, Glenn Robitaille and Susan Plue

While thousands of people across the country know how to provide first aid to someone with a physical injury, a lot fewer people are able to recognize the signs of someone needing mental health first aid. But that’s changing thanks to a new mental health first aid training program being offered coast-to-coast by Mental Health First Aid Canada, a program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

“Mental health first aid is help for a person experiencing a mental health problem or a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid, the goal is to offer a person immediate assistance until they can receive appropriate professional treatment or until the crisis is over,” says Susan Lalonde-Rankin, Mental Health and Addictions Systems Coordinator and Mental Health First Aid Trainer.

With one-time funding from the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (NSM LHIN) Care Connections twelve people from several agencies including Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka Parry Sound, CHIGAMIK Community Health Centre, Georgian College, La Clé, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre and Waypoint were able to become trainers. The new trainers are now delivering the Mental Health First Aid course in most areas of the NSM LHIN for non-clinical staff, not-for-profit agencies and members of the public.

“The Mental Health First Aid training was informative in understanding the most common mental health disorders, the stigma associated with these illnesses and recognizing the symptoms of mental health problems. Having worked in Human Resources for many years, this course has had a positive impact in my ability to not only recognize, but to also provide support/assistance to someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Monique Payment, Corporate Services Assistant with Huronia Historical Parks.

The 12-hour course provides general information about what is meant by mental health problems and illnesses, how to identify signs of mental health problems in yourself and others, effective interventions and treatments, and how to support an individual and help them find out about and access the professional help they may need.

It also dispels common myths surrounding mental health problems and reduces the stigma around mental illness, since estimates suggest that more than half of people with a mental health problem will never seek treatment.

“The course doesn’t train people to diagnose mental illness or be a therapist or counselor,” says Lalonde-Rankin. “It is designed to help build confidence that one can be helpful when encountering someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. We know the sooner a person with a mental health problem gets help, the better their chances of recovery.”

More information about mental health first aid and dates and locations of upcoming courses across Canada can be found at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.ca