HCQU Northwest News


 June 8, 2018

   Mental Health First Aid

It seems as though barely a day goes by that we don't hear of another person completing suicide. This begs the question, "Are more people completing suicide now than in years past, or are we just hearing more about them?" According to a report released by the CDC today, the answer is that the number of people completing suicide has risen by as much as 30% in many states since 1999.

Suicide (attempted or completed) is something that has very likely touched your life in some way, and may have left you wondering if there had been anything you could have done to prevent it. When I think of all of the people who have completed suicide in recent years, (including high-profile celebrities such as actors Lee Thompson Young and Robin Williams; Soul Train's Don Cornelius, musicians Mindy McCready, Chris Cornell, and Avicii; and just this week, designer Kate Spade and chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain), I have to wonder if someone might have been able to reach them and help them choose another path if only they had had some training on how to recognize the signs and what to do if they thought someone might be contemplating suicide.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is such a training.  We offer both the adult and youth versions of MHFA. These trainings are worth 8 training hours, which we can do over one 9-hour day (allowing for breaks and lunch) or two 4-hour days.  

What is Mental Health First Aid? 

According to the official website (https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/), "Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it does build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness."


Who might benefit from becoming MHFA certified?  Everyone! Anyone can #BeTheDifference to someone in mental health crisis: a coworker, coach, spiritual leader, friend, nurse, teacher, police officer - the list is endless!  The key is in knowing what to look for and what to do and say if they suspect someone is at risk of self-harm.


If you would like to learn how to #BeTheDifference, please contact us about scheduling an MHFA training, or visit the official MHFA site (https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/) to see what trainings are coming up in your area.  In addition to a listing of upcoming trainings, the MHFA USA site has several ideas on how you can help make a difference in the life of someone in crisis, including videos on how to have "The Awkward Conversation" with someone when they tell you they're not okay.


If enough of us educate ourselves so we are more prepared to help someone in mental health crisis, hopefully we can help put an end to suicide.


If you are personally in crisis or thinking of harming yourself, please call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255).


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