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  • Vermilion Voice

Mental Health First Aid


Derek Collins during the Mental Health First Aid session on April 27. Photo Angela Mouly

Back by popular demand the Mental Health First Aid - Basic course was held at the Vermilion Regional Centre on April 27-28.

Leader Derek Collins said last year VIBE was instrumental in bringing the first session in, while this year the event was sponsored by the Town of Vermilion, FCSS, and the County of Vermilion River.

“I was not directly involved in the first one, but I did hear that it was very well received and had a waiting list. It was that interest that made us think about offering another one,” said Collins. “Many of us will come across someone, a co-worker, a family member or a community member who is experiencing serious mental health distress. This course provides some understanding and skills to provide support and connect the person to the appropriate help.”

Just like First Aid is important, he said so is Mental Health First Aid. When people see someone hurt they take First Aid to know how to support them and get them to help, and Mental Health First Aid training is another way to do that as well.

“Helping people has been an important part of my career. I took my Masters in Educational Psychology so that I could provide better support for my students. Through my work I have also found it is very important to support those who do the helping. This training is just one way to help others understand mental health issues and build stronger connections,” said Collins.

The bulk of the presentation covers the application of the Mental Health First Aid approach, but he touched on substance abuse disorders, mood disorders including suicide intervention, and psychotic disorders.

If you recognize someone in mental distress, he said the first step is to help the person find a safe place and to let them know that you are there to help them to the next step. Often the next step he said, is some form of professional help whether it be a phone line or making an appointment with a professional.

The session had 25 participants in order to help facilitate more open communication. Collins said with that size it is easier to facilitate group discussions, be able to address questions and explore issues. Because there has been so much interest, he certainly thinks they will be offering this again in the future.

Anyone can be a mental health first aider. When asked what the most important things for people struggling with their mental health to remember are he said, “There is help available and please reach out and let someone know. We seek out others in times of joy and celebration, we need to seek out others in the tough times too.”

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