We all are aware of what “First aid kit” is, right? So the main purpose of a first aid kit is to immediately attend to the problem at hand. It generally has a collection of supplies for keeping things at the moment in control.
Let's understand the “mental health first aid” in analogy to the “first aid kit”.
Let me ask you a question? When do we use a first aid kit? When we cut/scratch ourselves or when we are hurt and to stop the pain and prevent things from going haywire.
Almost all of us have a first aid kit at home, or some of us carry bandages, certain medicines with us, just to be prepared and cater to the physical needs. In the same manner, mental health first aid serves to cater to our mental needs, help us in dealing with anxiety-provoking situations, in cases of PTSD, phobic situations, etc.
Mental health first aid doesn't mean diagnosis or psycho-education of a mental health disorder it simply means providing assistance through a crisis. Just like how in the cases of providing CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or a Heimlich can prevent a catastrophe from happening in the same way giving someone assistance in their mental health crisis can prevent things from spiraling up!
Mental health first aid generally involves helping the person in a mental health crisis through-
Being sensitive to the changes happening in them
Providing a calm relaxed environment
Removing the anxiety-provoking thing away from the person
Offering them water
Understanding them and not being judgemental
How to make a personal mental health first aid kit:-
Your Pouch of happiness
It can be a little box/pouch that you can keep with you most of the time. In that pouch, you can keep things that soothe you such as a stress ball, something to eat like chewing gums, toffee, chocolate, etc. the purpose here is to have things that will help you remain calm in anxious situations. Eating our favorite food calms us down and focuses our bodily reactions towards another activity and we feel a sense of calm and security.
Have positive affirmations or statements written on a small piece of paper and look at them in time of crisis or if you feel that something is going to happen e.g. “I am in control”,
“it's okay it will pass away in a minute”,
“I am bigger than my fear”
“Breath, it's a bad day, not a bad life” etc.
The statements can be like instructions as well such as; “Count till 10”
“Take a deep breath”,
“I choose peace” etc.
You should write a minimum of 5 positive and motivating affirmations that will help u feel a sense of control after reading them.
Our smartphones are with us 24X7 with us so why don't we make the most of it. Downloading calming apps such as Calm, Headspace, Relax, Sleepsounds, Relax melodies, making your personal playlist, etc. Such apps help us in taking a break from the slipping grip of the situations around us and help us in calming ourselves. You can download some calming games as well such as Anti-stress, Oasis, Connection, Energy- Anti-stress loop, etc.
Ironically, our smartphone may be the cause of unsettling feelings at times, and we can't leave our phones away from us also, such is the dilemma. In that case we can play some soothing tunes, favorite songs and keep the smartphone away. Taking a break from time to time from your smartphone is also good.
Stress balls are of great help to deal with anxious situations. They help in providing an outlet for building anxiety or some stress.
They are generally squishy and fit in the palm of hands, the ball is squeezed by hands, and helps in releasing the muscle tension.
It's great in distracting the mind from the clutter around us, suppose you have a deadline to meet and you're way behind on the task. Only working will result in tension, panic and affect the performance. Using a stress ball at such times will help you in dispensing the tension on the ball and relieve anxiety. It can also act as a mini workout!
Other stress busters include:
Hydrate yourself! During times of crisis, our body starts going through various changes, it heats up, sweating starts, heart rate rises, and shortness of breath. To cool ourselves down we should drink water. Water is a natural coolant, it helps in calming the body, it will relax other body reactions and give a soothing feeling.
So make sure you always have water on you!!
Always try finding some water to drink before making some hasty actions/decisions.
Mental health first aid is a relatively new concept. There are courses on “how to be a Mental health first aider” available, it provides a certification course.
However, you don't necessarily need a certification course to help someone. If you’re confused as to what to do in such situations just being understanding and accepting will be more than enough! Be aware of yourself, the changes your body goes through and that will help you in bracing yourself for the future!
Ms. Kajal Singh (Content Writer)
Editor’s note: Awareness of Mental health first aid is very important it's an amazing lifesaver for people with Mental health problems. It's the same as any physical first aid. The only difference is that it’s a slow process. We should practice Mental health first aid as it would allow people around us to be more open about their problems because each and every person fights a constant battle every day and just being there for them when they don’t know what's happening with them will do more good rather than nothing.