Mental-Health First Aiders Are Multiplying as Problems Can Hit One-in-Four; Rachel Bowen from Mind Cymru Looks at How Mental Health First Aid in Wales Is Going from Strength to Strength

Article excerpt

MOST people in Wales are familiar with first aid - first aid kits, the need for trained first aiders to be available at big events, in schools, in workplaces and so on. But how many people are aware that there's a first aid course for mental health? The answer might surprise you.

This week, the number of people in Wales trained in mental health first aid will reach 10,000.

That's 10,000 people able to provide initial help to anyone experiencing a mental health problem at home, at work or out and about in the community in everyday life, making a real difference to the people of Wales. If you're among those who have yet to hear about mental health first aid, it's a flexible two-day training course that teaches people how to spot the signs of a mental health problem and how to provide initial help and support while guiding someone towards appropriate help.

Often mental health problems remain misunderstood with lots of people worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. The mental health first aid course addresses people's fears and provides a step-by-step model that people can use. The course includes plenty of opportunities for discussion and to ask questions.

Mental health problems are incredibly common - one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any one year.

This could range from stress, anxiety or depression to something like obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder or a range of other problems.

Given how common mental health problems are, it's likely that we all know someone affected - a friend, a family member, a work colleague - and that's if we don't directly experience a mental health problem ourselves.

The good news is that people can and do recover from mental health problems but the earlier people get help the better.

Mental health first aid can be a vital part of this.

Unlike some training courses where what people have learned might be interesting but not directly useful, we know that people who have trained in mental health first aid go on to put the skills they have learned into practice. …