“Thank you for being part of a community capacity-building program that empowers laypeople to show concern and kindness so that any challenge a child may be struggling with doesn’t have to turn into a crisis.” That’s how I begin and welcome all my trainees during my Mental Health First Aid courses.
In 2010 I was trained in Mental Health First Aid and was so inspired, I soon became a Mental Health First Aid Instructor.
Since becoming certified as both a First Aider and Instructor, a young man very close to me was diagnosed with schizophrenia (he has given me permission to share his story). My training in Mental Health First Aid helped me to recognize signs and symptoms of his mental health problems and gave me the confidence to encourage him and his parents to seek early intervention from an early psychosis treatment program.
He no longer needs to attend treatment after five years of doing so. “Some people fully recover and we don’t know why,” according to his psychiatrist.
Some things you can never be sure of, but one thing Mental Health First Aid teaches is that early intervention is key to having more positive outcomes, both physically and mentally, over a lifetime. And that is exactly what I believe to have made the difference in this young man’s life.
Today, he intends to use his Bachelor’s degree in psychology to build a career by providing support and help to troubled youth.
I cannot express to you how much it really means when someone cares enough for those who are stigmatized by mental illness in our communities. So hearing that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation recently committed to training 150,000 people is beyond exciting – and to fund the opportunity is all the more noble. Having the backing of this Foundation that is so closely linked with the pulse of youth is phenomenal!
I encourage anyone who is interested in showing kindness to young people to take a Youth Mental Health First Aid course. You could #BeTheDifference for someone facing a mental health or substance use challenge!