Most people are familiar with CPR. In fact, more than 12 million Americans are trained in CPR every year to appropriately respond in case of a cardiac emergency. But what do we do if someone is having a mental health emergency? According to Mental Health America’s 2017 report, one in five adults has a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans, making it arguably more likely to come in contact with someone in an emotional crisis or with a mental illness. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), is a lesser known but equally important form of emergency assistance. It is a public education program that prepares people to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Participants learn how to identify the symptoms associated with mental health disorders, assess for suicide risk, and encourage appropriate intervention or care.
MHFA has been around for over a decade and it is estimated to be as common as CPR by 2020. In honor of Mental Health month, this article will put a spotlight on MHFA as a catalyst for reducing stigma and improving mental health literacy throughout communities nationwide.