Mental Health First Aid

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This makes it official, right?

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?

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My experience

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:

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ALGEE – the life-saving acronym

Algee, the mascot of MHFA, is this cutie pie:

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Algee the koala

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
  • Image result for spectrum of interventions for mental health
  • NEVER leave a person alone if they need help!
  • Say you went through a “similar situation” NOT “same thing”
  • Image result for thoughts emotions behaviors triangle
  • Attack the behaviour not the person
  • Make sure of the following:
    • You care and want to help
    • Empathy
    • 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:
    • Individual
    • Ongoing
    • Mass
    • Witnessing/hearing
    • – (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
    • Seated
    • 90-degree angle
    • Listened/emphatic
    • Minimal reaction (present)
  • Unhelpful actions: *
    • Sarcasm
    • Judgemental
    • Showed fear
    • Tone of voice
    • Remained standing
    • Arguing with delusions
    • Anxious
    • Insane
    • Calling help behind his back
    • Speaking about Peter in front of him
    • Facial expressions
  • What is affected by substance use disorders? The 4 Ls
    • Livelihood
    • Love
    • Liver
    • Law
  • Three types of substances:
    • Depressants
    • Hallocages
    • Stimulants

* 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.)

 

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#BreaktheStigma… from the Survivors

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“People think that OCD is all about being a neat freak or washing hands.”

“My friends and I were having a discussion about suicide, and one said that anyone who commits suicide is a selfish.”

“People think that anyone who commits suicide is selfish because they don’t think of the pain their family and friends go through.”

“I think that people in general think that mental health is not as important as physical illnesses. That’s why people are embarrassed to talk about what they’re going through, especially men.”

“For me, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is like being imprisoned – caged even – in my own brain to rules and such that I have to abide to to avoid something wrong from happening!”

“People think that just because I smile and joke a lot, that I am ‘normal’ and don’t have any type of mental disorders…”

“When people talk to me, it takes me a while to actually talk, if I actually manage to. They would just say ‘Oh she’s just shy’.”

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“Reality is way more than anyone thinks. Intrusive thoughts galore and never a quiet moment in your head… guilt of past mistakes, obsessing over health issues and an irrational thought which makes it so scary you end up having a panic attack… What else…? Ohh, seeking reassurance from someone means you’ll be ok for a minute and then the thoughts come back and you ask again for reassurance. It’s a vicious cycle; it never stops.”

“You’re scared that you might hurt someone although you still know you’re not going to hurt someone but you still live with that fear….”

“I have read that some people were scared being around children . Because they are scared they hurt them.”

“Obsessing about sexual orientation. If you’re straight, you think you’re gay and vice versa . I haven’t had all of these but, I know they happen.”

“In reality, in some cases, the person thinks that the world will be a better place without them.”

“… The truth is, we smile and laugh a lot to hide and bury our sadness deeper and deeper, out of fear of judgement.”

“I am not just a shy person. I am just scared of being judged for seeming vulnerable.”


Disclaimer: What you just read have been and are in present time experienced by real people. If yourself or someone close to you are suffering from any of these symptoms, consult with a doctor and take it from there.

Y O U ‘ R E [N O T] A L O N E

B R E A K T H E [S T I G M A]

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Things I Would Like to Do In The Future

Psychology Course

During my year-long stint at University, I studied Psychology for two semesters. I enjoyed every second of it… well, I love Psychology in general; I spent more time outside reading or surf-shopping with my classmates from my course than actually paying attention to the lectures since all the notes were sent to us by email.

Just a few days ago, I was looking for some things and I stumbled upon these Psychology notes, and it made me feel nostalgic of the one-year stint.

In a forum for the local MHA, someone wanted suggestions on Psychology courses, and a friend of mine said that she is attending one and that is is really interesting. And that triggered my sudden interest in sitting for a Psychology course… at least on Intermediate level… for now.

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The brain is a fascinating thing isn’t it?

Voluntary Work

I’ve always been a keen voluntary worker, but never really found the time to do much voluntary work. Last time I did any type for voluntary work was for a school project which was worth almost half my grade. I once did voluntary work at the Notarial Archives in Valletta.

But other than that, nothing.

Now that I have three whole months in summer of not working, I decided on doing more voluntary work if I don’t manage to find a job for the summer, and decided on two organisations to give  helping hand to:

  • MSPCA – Malta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Everyone knows I love animals, particularly dogs, and I want this experience to serve me for a future of owning a dog myself)
  • Richmond Foundation – a nonprofit dealing with mental health (now you know why I want to volunteer with them).change-the-world-1

 

Make-Up Course

I buy lots of make-up. I actually made a post about my make-up collection, which has since expanded spectacularly… and yet I have no clue how to apply eyeliner without looking borderline Panda.

So that’s why I think a makeup course would be good for me. I know several make-up artists who make the most BEAUTIFUL make-up, and I want to be able to do that too!

(Just nothing too extravagant. As if I want to look like the Mad Hatter!)

I mean, LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL MAKE-UP!

UPDATE: I WILL BE DOING A 3-DAY MAKEUP SEMINAR TAUGHT BY ONE OF MY FRIENDS, WHO WAS HERSELF TAUGHT BY LOCALLY RENOWNED ARTIST SHASHA FABRI AAAAAAAAAAAA!

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BONUS: Have her beautiful features

Start a Nonprofit for People Without a Voice

I don’t mean people who cannot talk, but who think they are alone in the world with their problems, no matter how little or severe they are. It could be on mental health, traumatic experiences, eating disorders, sexuality… anything the world exploits and tosses aside.

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Write a Self-Help Book

The goal of all future goals. I’ve alway been keen on literature and the skill of writing. I remember my earliest memory of writing a story. It was about a boy whose toys come to life and — no, not Toy Story — they take over his family and hold them hostage. Now before you say anything… I was actually around eight years old when I wrote this. EIGHT. And already writing about hostage situations! I know, I know… weird, and sad… but I always had a wild imagination ahead of me.

(It still precedes me to this day, but anyways).

But this time I don’t want to base myself on fiction, but more of a first-hand experience type of writing.

A self-help book.

With a LOT of first-hand experience to write a freaking saga, I want to put all my life together in a book to help people of all genders, ages, religions and sexual orientation. No judgement. Just guidance and illumination through writing.

And guess what…?

I’VE ALREADY STARTED IT! Yes, that’s right! I’m in the process of writing my first (and hopefully not last) book! I already have a photographer and illustrator on board… and they’re both survivors like myself! Couldn’t have asked for anyone better than them!

So stay tuned for a book with my name written on it! AAAAAAAAAA!

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So these are my future goals. I might update this post if the need arises. Let me know in the comments what YOUR goals for the future are.

That’s it from me, stay strong beautifuls x