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Healthier Together: Mental health first aid

Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 14:56:29-04

With the ongoing pandemic, mental health has come into focus as so many of us are affected in different ways. But have you heard of mental health first aid?

Fayth Dickenson, Senior Clinical Program Manager for Behavioral Health at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, “Mental Health First Aid is similar to CPR. So just like CPR gives people the skills they need in a medical emergency, mental health first aid is designed to do the same and help someone be equipped to help in a mental health issue or mental health crisis.”

Dickenson says it’s important for all of us to be aware of ways to help ourselves, and others.

She says, “Often when we don’t know what to say or what to do, we do nothing. So, one of the biggest takeaways from mental health first aid is how to start the conversation. How to notice signs and symptoms that someone might need help and get them the help that they need.”

The acronym ALGEE is one Dickenson says you can refer to when responding to a mental health crisis.

A – Assess for risk of suicide or harm

L – Listen non-judgmentally

G – Give reassurance and information

E – Encourage professional help

E – Encourage self-help and other support strategies

The ALGEE method is part of nationally recognized curriculum taught by certified trainers like Dickenson.

She says this curriculum helps, “Remind people that there is hope, that they can get better. These situations can resolve and that they are not alone. A lot of people express the same or similar issues and that they’ve been helped by professionals and family and other support.”

To find Mental Health First Aid classes near you, visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org.