Learning how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders during an emergency could make a critical difference in whether someone survives in crisis situations. Just like first aid for health emergencies, responders need to know what to do to help an underserved or often overlooked section of society.

Receiving the proper training is a matter of one simple class that teaches all the necessary skills to ease tensions and provide initial help and support to someone who may be experiencing mental health or substance use problems.

Almost 2 million people across the United States have been trained in mental health first aid. Training isn’t just for EMTs. Teachers, laypeople, coworkers, and employers could all benefit from learning how to help someone when a problem arises. It does everyone good. It’s just as important, if not more important, than providing first aid for our bodies.

What constitutes a mental health crisis?

The answer might not be what you expect. It could be anything from a panic attack to depression to signs of alcoholism.
Familiarizing yourself with how to help someone removes the fear of starting important conversations about mental health and substance abuse problems. It will improve your understanding and will give you a framework to teach others around you how to safely and responsibly address similar situations.

By equipping yourself with the proper tools to start this important dialogue, you’re building a bridge for those in crisis or near crisis level that will lead to them finding the assistance they need.

Learning to recognize the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and substance use issues will not only ease your mind and lessen a burden for you and those suffering, but it can help ease tensions in the workplace, at home, or in any other situations. Depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders can happen to anyone, no matter the age or social status.

How to get started:

Find a course near you by performing an internet search. More and more places like schools and community outreach centers offer these courses. Make time for this specialized training. Ask questions. Seek answers.

When you take a course, you’ll learn an action plan for a variety of situations like:

  • Panic attacks
  • Extreme reactions to traumatic events
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Acute psychosis
  • Overdose or withdrawal
  • Non-suicidal self-injury

You’ll also learn a variety of ways like role play, scenarios, interactive activities, videos, and through reading.

This isn’t a matter of finding the time or determining who should take this course. This is something everyone should be familiar with. People of all ages could benefit from this knowledge. Even learning the fundamentals could be enough to make a difference to someone experiencing pain or exerting behavior that signifies some sort of crisis.

The time is now to take action, educate yourself, and, more important, find a class and learn what you need to know to help your fellow man, woman, and child.

By: Andrew Adair