Mental health first aid an essential skill to have

A patient at the Institute of Mental Health.
A patient at the Institute of Mental Health.PHOTO: ST FILE

While we have a number of nationwide mental health initiatives, we need to start equipping individuals with the training to help develop and deliver interventions that can improve mental health effectively and efficiently in workplaces and schools.

More resources should be allocated to tackle a growing number of youth suicide and depression cases, especially for those aged 35 and below.

In order to combat the stigma, one must understand the norms and trends of mental illness by equipping oneself with the necessary knowledge and skills to spot the telltale signs of a mental health problem and provide help by guiding sufferers towards the right support.

Schools and companies should take the initiative to educate their employees, especially professionals who regularly interact with young employees, teachers and student leaders.

We would not just be helping to stop a mental illness from getting worse, but we would also be helping to prevent someone we know from hurting themselves or others.

At the same time, these skills and knowledge also serve as a reminder for us to take charge of our lives.

Mental health and physical health are closely connected.

Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect people's ability to participate in health-promoting behaviours.

In turn, problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, can have a serious impact on mental health and decrease a person's ability to participate in treatment and recovery.

If we think that equipping ourselves with standard first aid skills is important to save lives, then I strongly encourage organisations to give mental health first aid and education on mental health issues the same, if not higher, priority.

Delane Lim Zi Xuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Mental health first aid an essential skill to have'. Print Edition | Subscribe