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We’ve all heard of CPR. And because of it, many of us know what to do if someone is choking on a small piece of food or having trouble breathing. But, do you know what to do if someone around you is having a panic attack or suicidal thoughts?

That’s what Mental Health First Aid is for.

Just like CPR teaches you how to help someone having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to help someone experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. You learn risk factors and warning signs for mental illness and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations and where to turn for help.

You can also take a course that’s specific to the people you know and work with. Mental Health First Aid offers tailored courses that meet the needs of specific populations, including Mental Health First Aid for Adults, Youth, Teens, Public Safety, Fire/EMS, Veterans and At Work.

Mental health problems are common.

Topics covered during the training include depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, trauma, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and behaviors and more. These concerns affect everyone in some way, shape or form. Mental health problems are more common than heart disease, lung disease and cancer combined. Every year, one in five American adults is affected by a mental health problem. This means that most likely, you or someone around you will experience a mental illness. And you can help with Mental Health First Aid.

Many people with mental health problems do not seek help or delay seeking help.

In the United States, only 41% of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services. Even when people decide to get help, it’s frequently after many years of waiting and putting it off. The longer a person waits to seek help, the more difficult their recovery can be. But research shows that people with mental health problems are more likely to seek help if someone close to them suggests it. That can be you.

There is a stigma associated with mental health problems.

People are often ashamed to talk about their mental health problems with family and friends because they’re worried about what others will think. This stigma can cause people to isolate themselves, internalize the stigma and begin to believe the negative things they hear other people say. With a better understanding of mental health and substance use, you can open the conversation and help reduce stigma and discrimination.

You learn an action plan.

When you take a Mental Health First Aid course, you learn not only how to recognize warning signs of a mental health crisis, but how to respond with the Mental health First Aid ALGEE Action Plan. Sometimes professional and other support services are not available in a crisis. When that happens, First Aiders like you can assist the person in an effective and safe way to get appropriate help and support.

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally.
  3. Give reassurance and information.
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help.
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

You can be the difference for someone considering suicide.

In the United States, someone dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes. And for every suicide, 25 more people attempt suicide.

Every day, 140 people in the United States die of a drug overdose, 91 specifically because of opioids.

Approximately 80,000 people in the United States lose their life to alcohol use disorder each year.

These statistics say it all. Mental illness and addiction are taking lives every day, making it more important now than ever that everyone is trained to help with Mental Health First Aid. With the right information and skills, you could respond to someone who is struggling and help them get the support they need. As a trained First Aider, you could respond in a way that could make a difference.

If you are already trained, thank you. If you are not, take Mental Health First Aid today and #BeTheDifference for everyone who needs you.