Mental health first aid course helps people identify signs, symptoms
Published Thursday, February 19, 2015 7:23PM CST Last Updated Thursday, February 19, 2015 7:23PM CST
Daniel Lemire lives with post-traumatic stress disorder and turned to drawing to cope with the illness.
"As I drew, I found that I was able to be around people," he said.
Lemire said it may take other people to encourage someone who may be living with a mental health issue to get professional help.
But knowing the signs and symptoms and how to respond is important.
It's why the Canadian Mental Health Association delivers a course in mental health first aid.
"It's very similar to physical first aid and CPR so it's about getting the word out there and helping people get comfortable with mental health problems," said Marion Cooper, executive director for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Winnipeg.
The two-day course has been offered in Manitoba for the last eight years. It started small but has grown over time.
Deb Radi took the course three years ago and has used the training in her work and personal life to help friends and colleagues.
"You’re concerned for their safety. You're not sure whether they are getting appropriate help or whether they're even aware that they are displaying some things that might be just a little bit off,” Radi said.
St. John Ambulance is testing a mental health first aid course in Nova Scotia.
If it's successful, the organization may start offering the training across Canada, something Stacey Shule Krueger is happy to see. She’s an instructor for the mental health first aid course in Winnipeg. She said making the course more accessible will make it easier for people to get training.
"I believe - to be a healthier community - mental health first aid would be ideal if everybody took it,” she said.
Daniel Lemire said the more people that can get help the better and he sees that happening.
"I don't feel there's as much of a stigma as they're used to be with mental illness,” Lemire said.