During my post-secondary journey, I had the opportunity to complete the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course, which is offered through the Pace Centre here in Grande Prairie. In the last five years depression and psychological disorder rates for young people have increased substantially. With this increase comes the need for an increase in awareness about the signs and symptoms related to mental health illnesses and diseases. Mental health illness and disease can affect anyone, mental health disorders impact people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. Unfortunately, many people suffering from the symptoms feel afraid or ashamed to discuss their situation because they feel that society labels those suffering mental health as being unfit or incapable. The stigma surrounding mental health prevents individuals from seeking a professional or even reaching out to others for help. As a community, raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental health illness and disease is crucial. Mental Health First Aid provided me a better understanding of how to communicate with someone demonstrating the signs and symptoms. Raising awareness on mental health disorders within the community will create a supporting, positive environment for everyone and will potentially save lives. The crippling stigma attached to mental health is a concern we all, as a community, need to work together to address in order to allow these individuals to receive the help they need.
The five basic actions of MHFA are:
Assess the risk of suicide and/or harm
Give reassurance and information
Encourage person to seek appropriate medical/professional help
Encourage other supports- friends, family, support groups, etc.
This course allowed me to feel more confident in my abilities to assist someone struggling with mental health. On a daily basis, I intend on being more aware of those around me, a simple conversation can change someone’s life. For more information on the MHFA course, you can contact Pace or talk to the Continuing Education staff at GPRC, or the staff involved with Peer Counselling at GPRC.
Submitted by GPRC Student Ambassador, Natasha Getz.