Mental health concerns are much more common that you think; for example did you know that in New Zealand, approximately one in five adults will experience mental illness in any given year. This means that all of us can expect to have close contact with someone experiencing a mental illness at some time in our lives.
In spite of this how many of us can say we understand the signs of mental illness, let alone know how to help someone experiencing the symptoms, they are far less publically understood than physical health problems, where symptoms can be more obvious.
We are all aware of regular first aid courses and see every day how they help improve people’s skills and save lives, but, unfortunately, most of these courses do not address how we can help someone who is having mental health difficulties.
Now there is something that does!
“Mental Health First Aid” was developed in Australia as a way to empower community members to provide support to one another when experiencing mental health issues and mental health crises.
Since it was introduced in New Zealand in 2008, Mental Health First Aid courses have been delivered by Ko Awatea and Counties Manukau Health to over 250 people. The programme has been adapted for our New Zealand population and is also culturally responsive and appropriate for Maaori, Pasifika, and East Asian communities.
Our first Pasifika workshop was held at the end of May. We were really pleased to see our Ko Awatea accredited facilitators; Va Lutui and Kalisian Builiruarua present this first Mental Health First Aid – Pasifika pilot.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with comments such as:
“It was helpful because I didn’t know much info about Mental Health First Aid. The content was spot on and had points on what we Pasifika people are going through regarding mental health issues.”
“The manual is great to go home and look more over and the slides help as more with what was being discussed.”
The key component to the success of this pilot was that the facilitators were able to connect to the communities they were engaging with. One of the facilitators commented that teaching the workshop made her realise just how much people got out of it, and just how important it is to their community.
So if this has increased your interest in MHFA and you’d like to find out more please click here