The ultimate goal for everybody is to have a peaceful life with good health. But as we observe in our everyday lives good health alone does not equate to a satisfying, fulfilling life. Wealth and physical health does not guarantee everyone with everlasting happiness. To enjoy life to the fullest, one should have a sound and healthy mind to go along with a physically fit body (and a healthy bank statement as well!). Most of the time, we do not observe that we also have a mind to take care. Mental health is as important as physical health and we need to give due importance to it as we do for our body. So what constitutes our mental health? Mental health consists of emotional, psychological and social well-being which affects how we think, feel and behave. Hence, it is clear that for the normal functioning of a person it is essential that a well-balanced mental health is important. If physical health is comparable to mental health, can our mental health also get affected? Yes, our mental health can also get affected and it is what we call as mental health problems.
Mental health problems can arise from various reasons such as biological factors (genetic, impaired brain functions), life experiences (traumatic event or an abusive experience), or family history of mental health issues. There are different types of mental health problems which are diagnosed based upon the signs and symptoms. Mental health problems can show up in a variety of signs and symptoms like eating or sleeping too much or too little, isolation from the society, lack of energy, feeling numb, having a sense of hopelessness, increased levels of substance abuse, experiencing mood swings, thinking about self harm or harming others, unable to perform daily activities etc. Usually, due to lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health these signs and symptoms are not given due importance which can result in a crisis situation. Can we prevent mental health problems? Yes, it is possible to identify a developing mental health condition and prevent it from developing further. But there are some factors which can stop people from helping others in case of mental health problems. These are the factors listed to us by our participants during the MHFA training sessions.
- Fear of help being rejected by the other person
- Fear of being labeled if they are seen with a person who has mental health problems
- Fear to approach persons with mental health problems
- Lack of knowledge of treatments available
- Lack of knowledge to offer proper help to the other person
- Belief that only a professional can help the person to get better
- Belief that mental health problems are incurable
So, it can be seen that due to the taboo, myths and stigma people are reluctant to help others and miss an opportunity of early identification and prevention of mental health problems or crisis situations. As you are reading this there is a doubt in your mind as well which asks, ‘I am not a health professional, can I offer help on mental health to someone I know confidently?’ and I would like to answer you, ‘Yes, it is very much possible and Mental Health First Aid is the answer that you are seeking.’
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence based training that aims to empower people by making them understand about mental health and how they can take care of it themselves by providing appropriate information. Just like people are taught how to do CPR or provide physical health first aid, MHFA teaches the public how to provide the initial help most people struggle to find or have. Taboo and stigma can be addressed by factual information and MHFA provides simple ways of understanding mental health, when and how mental health problems turn to illness. MHFA is a standardised training course that has been proven to cultivate behaviour changes in people while building practical skills and confidence to reach out and provide non judgmental support to others who experience mental health problems. Multiple research studies from different countries all over the world have proven the usefulness of MHFA training. The testimonies from participants of the course have established that MHFA has not only empowered them to help others but also to help themselves. Over the years, MHFA has helped to change the lives of millions of people all over the world and rescued thousands of individuals from crisis situations. MHFAider acts like a bridge who acts to connects the persons experiencing mental health problems with the appropriate resources and services. without requiring any professional services and knowledge about mental health.
We all have the desire in our hearts to help others but we always may not know the means to do it. Those who have experienced mental health problems and recovered from it, or those who have been with a person who has/is experiencing mental health problems have the utmost genuine intention to help others. MHFA provides an opportunity for every adult to equip themselves in the right way with the required skills to help in the right time. Become a part of the training course and be the change that your heart desires. Empower yourself and your peers to build a community free from stigma and taboo on mental health.