What do we do if we think someone is showing the early symptoms of a mental health issue?
What can we say or do if we believe someone seems depressed, stressed, anxious, or shows signs of substance abuse or addiction?
If you notice a change in someone’s behaviour at work, or among your family and friends, they may need some mental health support. And while it takes a professional to diagnose and treat mental health issues, there are some ways you can support a person in this early stage.
When someone is physically injured at work, you would do whatever you could to help them until they receive professional medical attention. In the same way, you can follow some basic guidelines to offer some mental health “first aid”.
But remember, like with First Aid applying to general illness or injury, Mental Health First Aid also requires accredited training.
Mental Health First Aid Australia provides a wide variety of Mental Health First Aid courses and training, which are also tailored to suit different situations and circumstances.
They also provide an extensive list of Mental Health First Aid guidelines.
Who is affected?
According to the Victoria Government’s Better Health website, one in five Australians may experience an issue with their mental health each year.
Early care can lead to better health outcomes.
During extensive Covid-19 lockdowns, when many of us are working from home, it can be hard to notice if someone else needs mental health support. But it is only natural that under these circumstances mental health issues might arise or be exacerbated.
Now more than ever we need to pay attention to the people around us, and not ignore potential warning signs.
What can I do?
Better Health provides a handy summary to the Mental Health First Aid Australia guidelines. There are many signs that could be an indication that someone needs help, especially if the signs persist for several weeks. Some simple actions you can take:
- Watch for signs – such as changes in mood or energy level, being frequently distracted or agitated, or sudden unexplained weight loss.
- Start a conversation – be open and honest about your concerns. Do so calmly and in a safe space – remember, calm people calm people. Explain that you concerned about them and ask if they need help.
- Respect their decision if they don’t want to talk to you. You can still support them to speak to someone else they are more comfortable with.
- Be supportive – do not judge or blame. Listen well.
- Know what is not helpful – we may mean well but we can sometimes we may make matters worse when trying to help. Encourage the person to seek professional help and be there for them if needed.
- If the person doesn’t want to seek help now, let them know you will be there for them if they need you.
- If you believe that someone is showing signs of being suicidal, do not leave them alone. Help them connect with a support service, or in an emergency call 000.
And remember, Arriba Group’s businesses such as Rehab Management and AimBig have resources, training and people who can help you and refer someone in need to allied health professionals.