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This is a two day training course designed for people who do not have any specialist mental health training or experience.  It would be suitable for staff, volunteers, carers or service users. At the end of the course, participants will be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of a range of common mental health problems and will be able to offer practical support and signposting for a number of issues from stress, panic attacks to suicide attempts. The aim of the training is to enable people with mental health problems to access help promptly, cutting through their own and other’s prejudice about mental health. The course delivery is very flexible and may be delivered over two full days or spread out over a number of sessions.
San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) is sponsoring Youth Mental Health First Aid courses throughout San Mateo County. As many as 1 in 5 youth in the United States suffer from a mental health disorder or challenge. Participants will learn the potential risk factors related to the development of mental illness, how to recognize symptoms of common mental health risks among young people, and a step-by step plan to help a young person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
To learn more, visit BHRS's website, download the YMHFA brochure, or visit Mental Health First Aid USA's website. When you get a cut or a scrape, you usually have your own first aid kit to help out with that, don’t you? I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, and thinking about what I would prepare for myself for those ‘off’ days. A journal that you use specifically for writing about things you like about yourself, and things that you’re grateful for in your life. I’ll also take this opportunity to indicate that meditation and yoga have been really useful for me to centre myself when I’m feeling angry, lonely, or upset. I know it might be a bit of strange idea – after all, mostly we’re encouraged to look after our physical selves and not to give much attention to our mental health until something goes wrong. As a social work student, I occasionally hear great pieces of life wisdom from people who have been in the business for a long time. This is really helpful, I have a mental illness and needed someways to bring me up from my down days, so this has helped. Mental Health First Aid USA is an 8-hour training class to teach participants how to help someone who is developing a mental health condition or experiencing a mental health crisis.
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Mental Health First Aid is a simple idea – mental health problems are very common but most people do not know much about them.
Mental health first aid lets people know how to spot early signs of poor mental health, and provides the skills and confidence to offer support, including for family members, friends and work colleagues. The idea has been imported from Australia and is being tried out in many places across the UK. The two-day Mental Health First Aid course that I saw is designed to help people spot the early signs of a mental health problem, feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem, help stop a mental illness from getting worse and help people recover faster.
The council is using part of its public health funding to roll out training  to 1,000 of its frontline staff, including to librarians, police, ambulance service and council staff, believing that it will help build community resilience and integrate services as professionals from various public services receive the two-day training together. In Liverpool, the training has recorded a national first – being the first to address Armed Forces staff.
We offer a great new service, a 2 day accredited course in Mental Health First Aid, please phone or email for 2013 course dates, or stay tuned for future course dates. In a concerted effort to create safer schools and communities, BHRS and the San Mateo County Office of Education are working in partnership to deliver the Youth Mental Health First Aid curriculum to all interested schools and school districts over the next two years. This could be in playlist format on your mp3 player (or your phone), it could be a CD from your favourite artist, or even (and I know we’re getting a bit old school here) a mix CD or tape that you’ve put together or that someone has kindly put together for you.
These can be ones that you have written to yourself (an interesting practice, but one that can be really enjoyable) in a friendly tone, or from other people in your life.
A lot of the time when we’re feeling low, just having that sense of safety and warmth is enough to make us feel even the tiniest bit better.
I’m not encouraging people to spend time ‘living in the past’ – that would be counter-productive. I know it sounds ridiculous – why would you want to sit around seething for twenty minutes?
Mindfulness is to do with being in the present moment and being ‘mindful’ of everything that’s happening without being stressed about it. Social work can be extremely challenging, working with some really difficulty, heavy issues. Playing sports, going to the gym with a friend or heading to the dojo for some training are all quick and healthy ways of burning adrenaline and releasing endorphins. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it helps trainees identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. I had the chance to visit Labour-controlled Barking and Dagenham council in Essex with the Institute for Public Policy Research to see how they are working with the programme.

Some people are better equipped for dealing with these sorts of things – some people (though I must admit I haven’t met one) don’t actually have these little ‘episodes’ of feeling blue.
Showing gratitude can make you feel good whatever mood you’re in – just saying thank you to yourself for knowing when to rest and take time out is great. You can ask them specifically to write a nice letter for this venture if you feel comfortable with that, or you can simply exchange letters and keep them together if they make you feel happy.
It doesn’t have to be a stuffed animal or a blanket, it can be an action figure that you loved playing with, or even just something that reminds you of feeling safe and loved. I’m just suggesting that by having this box of things that bring you joy, your low mood may be easier to handle, and may not hang around as long. One good technique is to think of five things that each of your senses is experiencing – that is, five things you can see, five things you can hear, five things you can smell, five things you can feel, and, if you can do so, even five things you can taste.
One social worker once said that the way he gets through those hard, heavy days is by keeping a notebook on him at all times. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. Many people will have their own specific first aid kits depending on the area they live in and what they’re prone to – and how cautious they are. For those of us who do could it be possible to prepare a sort of ‘Mental Health First Aid Kit’ for yourself? This technique just helps to take you out of the situation that is upsetting you and put you back in control. The Youth class is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.
Even if it wasn’t in actual physical box or bag, and just a list of things that you keep in a journal or your brain – what sort of things would you put in there? So, even techniques can be put into your mental health first aid kit – you can write down a few things that you know can help and put them in there, too.

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