Mental Health First Aid

The dust has now settled on the harrowing moment Denmark and Inter Milan star Christian Eriksen seemingly inexplicably collapsed in Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 fixture against Finland, suffering from cardiac arrest.

There are a number of reasons attributed to how a terrible tragedy was averted but perhaps the most discussed was the actions of quick-thinking Danish captain Simon Kjaer, who was able to buy the medical team and Eriksen some extra precious time. Kjaer ran almost a full pitch length to open his teammate’s airways and initiate CPR. All that participated in the heroic treatment deserve immense credit, and it highlighted how crucial CPR and first aid training is.

The wide spread implementation of defibrillators at all football stadiums is a further commitment towards a future of more effective CPR and first aid, in particular for cardiac arrest – in which one in ten survive without the assistance of a defibrillator.

But what about Mental Health First Aid? A concept which will sound alien to most – I had no idea that there was even such a thing.

Discussions regarding mental health issues are more prominent than ever, and about time too. One of the first and most important steps of advice given to those suffering is to ‘speak up’, to open out and to share those issues with a friend or family. While this is absolutely recommended and should continue to be so, there is less emphasis on being a good listener.

That’s where Mental Health First Aid comes into it.

It’s one thing to listen to somebody’s personal struggles, it’s another to know how to respond or react. The course won’t teach you how to become a therapist, but it will help the student to learn how to identify, understand, and ultimately help whoever is reaching out to you.

Empathy is the key to becoming a valuable listener. Showing an individual through your undivided attention and concern that you care and genuinely want to help not only creates an emotional environment of safety and normality but encourages that same person to approach you when they’d like an opportunity to communicate again.

By developing skills in helping others a natural confidence will manifest which will bolster your abilities when caring again in the future. There is never any fault in not knowing the right response, especially when we desperately want to say something to feel like we’re making a tangible difference. The course will help to identify when the right time to say something is; sometimes saying nothing is the remedy.

The course will also help the learner how to empower others to access the support and resources that they may need to help with recovery, or even aid in the successful management of symptoms.

All of this training can not only help with peers who are suffering but will help in preparing yourself for challenging stigmas faced in the world and how to support and promote positive wellbeing.

It’s wonderful that the mental health stigma is slowly diminishing with the encouragement of openness and the growth of establishments, charities and support sites; but it’s equally as important to not rest on our laurels and to build on the amazing work which has already paved the way.

Mental Health First Aid England are a national provider of these courses, and they can be accessed both on site and online. Please follow the link provided to learn more or to book a course.

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