Why take the course

There are many reasons why people who live or work with young people need training in mental health first aid, these include:

  • being able to detect problems early
  • helping to tackle stigma
  • helping young people to recognise problems
  • providing guidance
  • providing immediate assistance.

Mental health problems and illness can first develop during childhood and adolescence. When mental health problems start at an early stage they can have a significant impact on the young person’s life. They can affect education, job prospects, motivation and the development of key relationships (such as finding a partner), and can lead to dependency on alcohol and other substances. This is why it is so important to detect problems early to help ensure young people are properly supported to make positive choices.

Sometimes people are worried that being trained as a mental health first aider will mean that they have to take responsibility for others even when this is too emotionally demanding or time consuming. This is an understandable concern, but it is based on a misconception. People trained in mental health first aid are ordinary people who have been trained in what to do during a mental health crisis.

A key thing to remember is that although the first aider has been trained how to respond, they are never obliged to intervene.

‘The Scottish Government is delighted that the SMHFA course for young people is ready to roll out. Following on from the success of the original SMFHA model, it became clear that there was a need and an enthusiasm to develop a specially designed and evidence based course aimed at supporting young people. One of the key change areas identified in our Mental Health Strategy 2012-15 is child and adolescent mental health. The introduction of this course will be a valuable addition to the range of activities to tackle the challenges in that area.’

A spokesperson, Scottish Government Mental Health Improvement Unit

 
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