Is Your Organization Developing Mental Health First Aid Policies?
In his 2023 State of the Union address, President Biden briefly discussed his administration’s commitment to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is a relatively new concept in the mental and behavioral health field. Nonetheless, it is an important concept that seems to be gaining traction around the country. As a mental health consulting company, we have a question for you: Is your organization developing mental health first aid policies?
MHFA is both a general concept and an actual course people can be trained in. It is similar to physical first aid in that it’s designed to equip people to respond to mental health emergencies quickly and effectively. And, like physical first aid, doing so requires at least some amount of training.
It is probably time that MHFA became a standard part of mental health management. As most of us know, America’s mental health has been at a crossroads since the COVID pandemic. We are now at a point at which things can go either way, depending on how we respond to mental health crises in the workplace, the school system, and even at home.
The First Aid Concept
Physical first aid has been around long enough that most of us understand the concept. Training in physical first aid includes fundamentals like wound care, burn care, CPR, and coming to the aid of someone who is choking. The thing about physical first aid is that it is often easy to see emergencies as they unfold. The physical manifestations are pretty straightforward. That is not always the case with mental health.
Applying the first aid concept to mental health can be somewhat tricky because the vast majority of us don’t know what a mental health crisis looks like. But we can all be trained. And, according to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, some 2.5 million people in this country have already taken an MHFA training course.
It might be worth your organization’s while to choose some select individuals from within your ranks to be trained in mental health first aid. And, while we’re thinking about it, physical first aid training is still just as important. Every organization, whether it’s a business, a nonprofit, or a government entity, should have key people trained in first aid. It is a safety issue.
Taking the Fear Out of Helping
One of the goals of MHFA training is to take the fear out of helping other people. If you have never been trained in physical first aid, you might panic at the sight of a stranger in the coffee shop having a heart attack. You wouldn’t know what to do, nor would you be able to respond in any meaningful way. The same thing applies to mental health crises.
Being trained in MHFA takes the fear out of helping someone facing a panic attack. It takes the fear out of acting on concerns that a friend or coworker might be struggling with substance abuse. Most importantly, training gives people the tools they need to recognize mental health warning signs so that help can be offered.
Our experience in mental health management tells us that MHFA training is a good thing. Behavioral health clinicians, along with some of the allied staff that support them are already well versed in the concept. But, are there others in your organization that would benefit from training?
The MHFA concept, though birthed in Australia, has been adapted for the U.S. healthcare model. It is also here to stay. That being the case, now is as good a time as any for your organization to begin developing MHFA policies.
Let’s Get to Work, Together
Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.