By Valerie Payne, Complaints Counsel
Law Society of Saskatchewan
The Law Society receives numerous calls a year from its Members, asking for assistance in situations where mental health concerns have developed relating to themselves, clients, colleagues. These concerns include self-harm, potential danger to others, capacity issues resulting from mental breakdown, and how to assist employees/staff who are going through difficult circumstances which may be affecting their mental well-being.
Mental Health First Aid Canada is a program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, designed to assist people during a mental health crisis and can also be an important tool for those around them – including employers, friends and colleagues.
One in three Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the better the outcome. Mental Health First Aid Canada gives people the skills to provide that early help which is so important in recovery.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved.
The MHFA Canada program aims to improve mental health literacy and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague.
The program does not teach people how to be therapists. It does teach people how to:
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems.
- Provide initial help.
- Guide a person towards appropriate professional help.
MHFA aims to:
- Preserve life where a person may be a danger to themselves or others.
- Provide help to prevent the mental health problem from developing into a more serious state.
- Promote the recovery of good mental health.
- Provide comfort to a person experiencing a mental health problem.
Most Members will find the portion of the website relating to Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace to be the most helpful, but the website contains a great deal of useful material. Members have attended the courses offered through the program and have found them to be well worth attending.