Well…! I’ve finally done it! The first of many steps towards breaking the stigma surrounding mental health problems in Malta:
I am a Mental Health First Aider!
Confetti it’s a parade!
Celebrations aside, this has been something I’ve wanted to do since forever. And it’s finally done. 2 Saturdays. 6 hours each. Lots of laughs and new friends. Breaking the stigma, one person at a time.
Why should one take a mental health first aid course?
Over the past two sessions, I learned a lot of things about mental health, and took note of them. Having been through mental health problems gave me a good background of certain things, but some things were new to me, including ALGEE:
Algee, the mascot of MHFA, is this cutie pie:
Despite having the MHFA manual, which was given to us free of charge, I still took notes of my own, and they will be listed down below…
- Mental health problem – not diagnosed but displays symptoms
- Mental health illness – diagnosed
- NEVER leave a person alone if they need help!
- Say you went through a “similar situation” NOT “same thing”
- Attack the behaviour not the person
- Make sure of the following:
- You care and want to help
- Help is available
- Thoughts are very common
- Encourage the person to do most of the talking
- No threats/guilt
- NEVER KEEP SUICIDE A SECRET
- There are ways to address specific problems
- Involve the person in who to be told about the problem
- When person is in crisis – first aid
- When person not in crisis – ALGEE
- Panic attacks are
- frightening but not dangerous
- not all triggered
- When in doubt, assume person is experiencing a panic attack, NOT a heart attack
- When person says they’re having a panic attack and recovers – no intervention
- Slow breathing helps BUT focusing on breathing can become an emotional crutch leading to difficulty with eventual treatment
- Panic attack – not more than 10 minutes
- Types of traumas:
- – (I didn’t get the last one unfortunately)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder = Multiple Personality Disorder but NOT = schizophrenia!
- Psychosis = loss of contact from reality
- Neither confirm nor deny someone with psychosis!
- Schizophrenia should be diagnosed early – teens to early 20s
- Borderline Personality Disorder NOT = Bipolar!
- Schizoaffective – schizophrenia + bipolar/depression (mood disorder)
- Helpful actions: *
- Seeking help
- Offer tea
- Didn’t go inside
- Good memories
- Friendship to help
- Calm + firm tone
- Gave options
- Showed concern
- 90-degree angle
- Minimal reaction (present)
- Unhelpful actions: *
- Showed fear
- Tone of voice
- Remained standing
- Arguing with delusions
- Calling help behind his back
- Speaking about Peter in front of him
- Facial expressions
- What is affected by substance use disorders? The 4 Ls
- Three types of substances:
* Points taken during a video about MFHA: Psychosis taken from the MHFA Australia DVD
So these were all the points I jotted down throughout the 12-hour course, including some pictures used during the presentations. As a disclaimer, I would like to point out that despite this certification, I CANNOT diagnose ANYONE, but simply ASSIST the person in case of mental health problems. For a diagnosis, please seek professional help (GPs, psychologist, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, etc.)