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Oct 26

Lessons Learned from Mental Health First Aid Training

When you think of first aid training what comes to mind may be CPR, First Aid, or AED training.  Most of us even have a basic first aid kit in our home or car. HR Palm Beach County recently joined with community partners to offer Mental Health First Aid for HR and Business Professionals. Mental Health First Aid training provides basic knowledge and skills to respond to an individual in distress and covered anxiety disorders, depression, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.  Mental Health First Aid training helps a person assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide.  The goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives.

Key things I learned from attending the training:

  1. Many mental health problems can be resolved or helped by seeking support, restoring emotional balance and employing self-care strategies. (I was able to role play a panic attack and learned how to talk the person thru the process.)
  2. Not every person in psychological distress has a mental disorder.
  3. I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose or replace a therapist
  4. Mental Health First Aid Action Plan ALGEE –
    • Assess for Risk of suicide or harm
    • Listen nonjudgmentally
    • Give reassurance and information
    • Encourage appropriate professional help
    • Encourage self-help and other support strategies
  5. Helpful things to say to someone with depressive symptoms –“I am concerned about you”,“Have you spoken to anyone about this before?”

    “It is hard for me to understand exactly what you are going through, but I can see that it’s distressing for you.”

    “Let’s go and have a cup of tea.”

    In my profession, I have dealt with employees at risk for suicide.  I am now prepared to ask direct questions such as, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?,” and assess if the situation is serious by asking follow-up questions:

1  Have you decided how you would kill yourself?

2  Have you decided when you would do it?

3. Have you taken any steps to secure the things you would need to carry out your plan?

Mental Health First Aid is intended for all people and organizations interested in learning more about mental illness and addiction. After attending the training, Katie Kato, President at The Human Resources Factor, LLC, said, “I do believe that this training provides a more relevant skill for Human Resources professionals than even the standard CPR/First Aid.  While we may not specifically recognize or ‘diagnose’ individuals who may be dealing with various mental health challenges, through our interactions with supervisors, we address the behaviors and conduct of staff who have these issues. Our ability to recognize the ‘bigger’ picture will help us with our professional responsibilities, and will make us more valuable to both these managers and the staff that we serve because this insight should prepare us to respond more empathetically and with more appropriate knowledge.”

  1. Ms. Kato echoed how we all feel when she said, “I feel so proud of our HRPBC Chapter, and our fellow HR professionals for making this training a priority and learning how to better deal with these matters.”The National Council for Behavioral Health operates Mental Health First Aid USA in partnership with the Missouri Department of Mental Health and their vision is for this training to become as common as CPR and First Aid training.  

    Author:

     

    Aimee Mangold, SHRM-SCP, Vice President of Human Resources at Kolter Hospitality, LLC, and President-Elect at HRPBC. Aimee brings over 20 years of professional human resource leadership experience having worked with The Procaccianti Group and Interstate Hotels where she held various roles as Area Director of Human Resources, Regional Director of Human Resources and Regional Trainer. Aimee has been a member Human Resources Association of Palm Beach County since 2006 and has held a variety of volunteer positions including Workforce Readiness chairperson, At-Large Director and is currently President Elect.  She currently holds a SHRM-SCP and SPHR designation.

     

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