Veterans Mental Health First Aid is a valuable resource that can make a difference in the lives of the more than 22 million veterans, their families, and the communities they live in. Family members and personnel working with military and families are often not aware of how to engage veterans with mental illnesses and addictions. In addition to the impact of military service on the veteran, each has a circle of family (significant other, children, parents, siblings, etc.) and friends impacted by military service. Thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment – approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. Sadly, less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
Like CPR training helps a non-medical professional assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps an individual who doesn’t have clinical training assist someone experiencing mental health issues of concern. The goal of Mental Health First Aid is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help or support strategies are available.
Veterans Mental Health First Aid Training teaches a 5-step process to:
• assess a situation
• select and implement appropriate interventions, and
• help an individual connect with appropriate care.
• the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and addiction
• engage in activities that build understanding of the impact of illness, and
• receive information about effective treatment programs.
Mental Health First Aiders learn to use a single strategy approach
Trainees learn to apply a simple approach to specific types of situations such as helping someone through a panic attack, engaging with someone who may be anxious, depressed or even suicidal, supporting a person experiencing psychosis, and helping an individual who has overdosed. An important component of the Mental Health First Aid training is that trainees practice the intervention strategy rather than just learn about it. This experience can make it easier to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life situation.
Key Components of Veterans Mental Health First Aid include:
• discussion of military culture and its relevance to the topic of mental health
• discussion of specific risk factors faced by many service members and their families, such as trauma, both mental and physical, stress, separation, etc.
• applying the MHFA action plan in scenarios designed specifically for veteran’s concerns
• review of common mental health resources for service members
- Understand the definition and goals of Mental Health First Aid.
- Learn and practice the Action Plan for Mental Health First Aid using the Five Basic Steps:
1. Assessing risk of suicide or harm
2. Listening non-judgmentally
3. Giving reassurance and information
4. Encouraging person to get appropriate professional help
5. Encouraging self-help strategies.
- Receive an overview of mental health problems and types of treatment available.
- Learn about the most prevalent mental illnesses; their definitions, causes, risk factors, warning signs and symptoms.
- Obtain information on resources (websites/ organizations) for continued study and reference.
Training Modules Cover:
Key components include discussion of military culture and relevance to mental health, specific risk factors by service members and their families. Modules address:
1. What is Mental Health First Aid
2. Mental health problems
3. Recognizing Depression
4. Anxiety Disorders
5. What is Psychosis
6. Understanding Substance Use Disorders
7. Harming Behaviors: Deliberate Self-injury
8. Resources and References
If you have further questions regarding the training please E-mail CommunityRelations@kmhs.org.