Posted Jul 25, 2022, 7:00 AM
“Less than a week after my mental health first aid training, I was able to use what I had learned to help a young woman who was having an anxiety attack”, testifies Carla Chabanol, 22 years old. She continues and summarizes the moment: “I saw her leave the classroom in tears and since I had just had my mental health first aid certificate, I felt justified in going out to join her. » Carla Chabanol is a psychology student. She also works in parallel for the Maison des Adolescents de Dijon, and it is within the framework of her professional activity that Carla Chabanol was able to benefit from this training. But she was far from suspecting that she would resort to it so quickly.
Once alongside the student in the midst of an anxiety attack, Carla begins to follow the action plan learned and whose five steps are summarized under the acronym AERER (approach, listen, comfort, encourage, inform). She approaches him asking if she needs help and signals that she will stay with her. “And then I referred her to a professional, I also talked to her about other ways to manage anxiety attacks, like meditation. » The student victim of this anxiety attack confided to Carla that thanks to her presence and her intervention, the episode had passed more quickly than usual.
One in five people affected by mental disorders
What this student experienced is far from being anecdotal. In London, one person in five is affected each year by a mental disorder, i.e. 13 million English people. The situation has a significant impact on young people and companies in particular: a few days ago, a study by Malakoff Humanis revealed that 23% of employees under 30 report poor mental health, compared to 16% for all employees. And, one in two young employees under 30 say they are tired/exhausted compared to 49% in 2021 and 43% in 2018.
It is therefore high time for the world of work to mobilize and training in mental health first aid can be a good lever for action. Especially since the company is a particularly favorable place: “Except for crises, mental health first aid requires being able to observe people over a certain period of time. You can't see mental disorders in five minutes. So the workplace is a good place to meet people over the long term, see problems and intervene if necessary.explains Jacques Marescaux, director of the association PSSM London (First Aid in Mental Health).
Another strong argument for companies to take up this subject: mental health problems are one of the main causes of sick leaves, professional structures therefore have a direct interest in addressing the issue.
An action plan called AERER
Concretely, the training is working, in two days, to present the most frequent mental health disorders: mood disorders (depression), anxiety, psychotics (schizophrenia) and finally disorders related to the use of substances. (alcohol, drugs, medication, etc.). Each disorder is associated with an action plan, the famous AERER used by Carla.
Overall, the approach is always the same, although there are some adjustments depending on the disorder. “For example, for a person who has suicidal thoughts, you should not beat around the bush and ask very directly if they have suicidal thoughts, the means they intend to implement to get there, etc. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's the right approach., says Jacques Marescaux. Scenarios are then offered to trainees in the training to train in practical exercises.
At the end of the two days, a manual which resumes and completes the lessons taught is given to all participants. They also receive a mental health first aid certificate. “The goal when you are a first aider is really to spot signs of mental disorders and then to alert, to refer to health professionals. The objective is not to make a diagnosis and make cheap doctors or nurses. »
Organize in-company training
In practice, if a company wishes to organize this training, the ideal is to go to the PSSM London website where there is a list of trainers to contact. But beware of scams! Sites offer training whose program has no license and perhaps no scientific legitimacy, unlike that offered by PSSM London which is the result of close collaboration between scientists, patients and carers.
The prices of the training differ according to the trainers, but the association recommends a price of 250 Pounds per person for the two days. The Professional Training Account cannot yet be mobilized to finance this apprenticeship, however “it could be in a few months, while we take the steps”points out Jacques Marescaux.
To date, it is impossible to know how many companies have already committed to this training. What we do know is that companies like EDF, BNP and Novartis have already taken the plunge. Administrations and local authorities, such as Nantes City Hall, have also trained some of their employees in mental health first aid. PSSM London currently has 27,547 trained first aiders and hopes for 33,000 by the end of the year in London.
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