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By Dr Michelle Wright, HealthFirst

In Europe, around half of us will experience mental distress at some point in our lives, with depression and anxiety the most common diagnoses. But despite being so common, talking about mental health remains taboo and there is still a lot of misunderstanding, uncertainty, fear and stigmatization surrounding it.

Many people are not well informed about how to recognize mental health problems, how to respond to an affected person, or about the treatments available. In addition, because of worries about being perceived as weak, taking the step to open up to others about their own mental health isn’t always easy for someone.

To try to tackle these issues, the Pro Mente Sana Foundation, with support from the Beisheim Foundation, has recently launched the internationally recognized Mental Health First Aid program in Switzerland. Here it’s called ‘ensa Mental Health First Aid’, ‘ensa’ meaning ‘answer’ in one of the Aboriginal languages and being translatable in German, French, Italian and English. HealthFirst is proud to be recognized as an ensa Partner, providing certified ensa Mental Health First Aid courses in English throughout the country.

The program, originally developed in Australia, trains and empowers lay people to provide initial support to others who may be developing mental health problems, experiencing worsening of existing mental health problems, or who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. It’s essentially a First Aid training programme with similar principles to those for physical First Aid but this time for mental health.

Any interested person who wants to learn how they can support family members, friends or colleagues experiencing mental health difficulties can become a Mental Health First Aider. No healthcare background or pre-requisite training is necessary.

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And there is strong evidence supporting its utility. Several randomized controlled trials have shown that Mental Health First Aid training not only improves a participant’s knowledge of mental health but also reduces their stigmatizing behaviour towards others and increases their self-confidence in their ability to help those in need. In addition, it also strengthens the individual’s own mental wellbeing.

What the training involves
During 12-hours of training, ideally split into 4 x 3-hour modules, future Mental Health First Aiders will gain a basic knowledge of common mental illnesses affecting adults including depression, anxiety, psychosis and alcohol or other substance misuse. They will learn how to proactively approach a person in mental distress, aiming to offer support before a crisis develops. Concrete Mental Health First Aid measures for ongoing problems and crises are discussed and practiced.

Throughout the training, suitable for anyone aged 18 and over, the social stigmas that exist around mental health are addressed by increasing awareness of the fact that mental health difficulties can happen to anyone at any time.

How can I enroll on a Mental Health First Aid course?
HealthFirst is running their first public Mental Health First Aid course in Geneva
5, 12, 19, 26 November 2019
17h30-21h each evening
Fees are Fr. 380.-/person, including registration, course materials and certification.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information and to book your place.

HealthFirst also organizes in-house training courses for up to 20 participants for companies, NGOs and other organizations throughout Switzerland.

https://www.healthfirst.ch/ensa-mental-health-first-aid/

 

Author's bio

MichelleWRIGHThealthfirst

Dr Michelle Wright is a British-trained General Practitioner and Director of HealthFirst, providing dynamic First Aid Training and Health Education in English throughout Switzerland (www.healthfirst.ch). She also has a regular radio show about health on World Radio Switzerland (www.worldradio.ch/healthmatters).