What is mental health first aid? A first aid is generally provided to an injured with #Dettol and cotton. But you must be wondering what this mental health first aid is! First aid means instantaneous relief, or momentary help provided to a suffering person till he or she can reach an expert or doctor. The first help refers to the immediate relief provided to a person showing mental ailment symptoms, so that he or she calms down and gets the time to recognize his/her problem and reach out a professional.
For e.g. if a person panics because he feels he is late for a flight, your duty will be to calm him down with a cool voice and reiterate “everything will be alright”, and that you have been in the same situation which never went beyond control. When an anxious person can relate himself to a similar experience of another, he relaxes. This is called first aid.
Mental distress can be severely damaging for the personality of your loved ones, and it helps you realize that you are responsible too in restoring their mental wellness.
Stress and depression can have graver impacts on the mind which leaves a person disoriented, fatigued, disheartened, and hopeless. They feel they are alone, such, that this situation can lead to suicidal tendencies.
So how can you help your close ones if they are showing symptoms of such ailments?
- It is important to note significant changes in a friend’s behaviour- anyone apart from a medical expert cannot diagnose mood disorders. But you can notice some special changes in behaviour, if a friend is suffering from depression, anxiety or such kind of special disorders. Do not ignore the symptoms. If a friend is suddenly quiet, take it as a signal that there may be something wrong. Remain aware that each individual is different and not everyone experiencing a mood disorders will show the typical signs and symptoms.
- If you really want to help improve your awareness- start reading more articles and books on mental health problems and their symptoms. Knowledge will help you identify the challenge in a professional way.
- Your approach should be focused on your friend- let your friend speak. Choose a proper time in private, so that a one to one talk can be generated, and your friend feels comfortable. Let him know, that you have been noticing changes in him, hence use ‘I’ in your narrative., so that he or she is convinced that you are concerned, and that you have not heard something from someone.
- Your support is very important- Treat the person with dignity. Do not blame him or her for reiterating over his or her pains and sufferings. Be a good listener so that he or she is encouraged to talk. Make him feel that you are there and things will be alright.
- Don’t do things which can damage the situation- Being sarcastic, violent, or critical towards a person with mental aid requirement, can shatter his or her confidence. There is no point asking him or her to snap out of the situation with a click, that is not possible. It is a process, and requires time, and you have to respect that space and time, rather than forcing him or her to get rid of it and stop bothering you; this can make him feel lonely and unwanted.
- Encourage the person to get medical help- denial will be the first reaction. But do not get discouraged. Know the reasons why he or she is avoiding medical aids. Make him or her understand that it is important and is being suggested for the better, not worse.
- Try to identify suicidal warnings- do not ignore if your friend is having suicidal thoughts. Speak to him clearly about suicide and attempts and its consequences to discourage him or her from doing so.