Mental Health First Aid help societies understand what mental health problem is, seek psychological professional help on time and break negative attitudes about mental health problems. Sometimes an individual undergoes a mental health problem but the individual themselves, their family, friends and even the society at large are unaware of their symptoms and hence either seek delayed help or do not have open conversations about their illness. Mental Health First Aid helps us to be responsible members of our society by being sensitive to acknowledging mental health problems.
A great section of individuals suffering from mental illness are the youth of our society. The Youth Mental Health First Aid focuses on youth ranging from ages 12 to 25 years. This basically is a program encouraging and teaching parents, teachers, peers, responsible members of society and even the youth themselves to understand, discuss about the signs and symptoms, prevalence, available and accurate treatment for mental health problems.
The program as such covers the challenges of mental health for youth, an understanding of normal development and intensive guided plan for both crisis and non-crisis situations. Mental health problems covered are disorders causing suicide, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, substance use disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia and their types and disruptive behaviour disorders. Other than that, other mental health crisis situations are also covered; suicidal thoughts & self harm behaviours, non-suicidal self-injury, bullying, panic attacks, traumatic events, peer pressure, sexual abuse and aggressive behaviours.
RED flag signs of concerning behaviour for youth:
- A decline in activities that was previously enjoyed by them
- A decline in time spent with family and friends
- A significant decline in school or job performance
- Showing resistance in attending school or jobs
- Having issue with attention, concentration and memory related tasks
- Drastic changes in eating, sleeping patterns and even energy levels.
- Physical symptoms ( such as headaches, stomach aches, backaches)
- Having feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, sadness
- Sudden bouts of crying
- Showing frequent delinquency, aggression or verbal abuse
- Showing poor personal hygiene or appearance
- Engaging in substance use
- Engaging in dangerous or illegal behaviour
- Being extremely suspicious of others
- Seeing or listening to things that others do not
Apply this five-step action plan while dealing with youth who suffer from mental health problems and mental health crisis:
- Make sure that they are not at risk for suicide, self harm or harm for others.
- Listen to them in a non judgmental way
- Reassure them, sometimes all that they need is assurance from someone.
- Refer and if possible even accompany them to a psychological professional help
- Encouraging them to help themselves.
- Encouraging them to join support groups.
The youth are a sensitive group of our society, caring for them is crucial especially when they suffer or are vulnerable to mental health problems. As a society, we cannot remain ignorant and must join forces to uplift and encourage our young to take the necessary steps for their recovery of mental health problems.