Mental health ‘first aid’ training in how to cope with people having a panic attack or showing signs of depression has just been launched by St John.

With one in five New Zealanders facing a mental health challenge each year St John says its one day Mental Health First Aid training is aimed at helping everyday Kiwis have the confidence to offer initial support and to know how to direct people to professional help.

“When someone walks in with an arm in a sling or on crutches, most of us naturally ask: what happened? how can I help?” said St John National Programme and Development Manager, Gabrielle Wildbore.

“When the struggle is not visible, despite it having no less impact, a whole range of social, environmental and personal factors kick in that actively work against us wanting to reach out. It’s the moment we most need to communicate, but the very time we find it most difficult.”

Wildbore said its ambulance officers were responding to growing numbers of mental health-related callouts year on year with many for people in  a state of crisis. “The provision of Mental Health First Aid aims to facilitate open conversations early, and highlight agencies who can help to help prevent people from reaching that crisis point.”

She said the one day training programme for laypeople had been carefully designed for the New Zealand context, drawn on international and local best practice resources and research and had undergone a three-month pilot.

The new course covers a basic understanding of the relationship between mental health and disorder, and potential red flags, strategies for managing the initial support of friends, family and colleagues safely, and information on obtaining immediate assistance if necessary.

St John says at least 450 organisations and individuals have already expressed interest in the MHFA training programme.

WHERE TO GET HELP

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.

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