Mental health is part of the zeitgeist of our times with a focus on raising awareness, reducing stigma and raising funds for projects gathering pace across the UK.
There is also a growing consensus that more needs to be done to understand and assist those in mental distress and I am championing ‘psychological first aid’ training to help facilitate this.
Be in no doubt that mental health issues are common and all around us. Right now about one in six adults will be experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental ill-health is becoming increasingly widespread among younger people too with one in five teenagers affected each year. This means that it is even more important than ever to tackle it and to tackle it now.
Traditional first aid is firmly rooted in the health and safety consciousness of the nation, and rightly so. Many of us are trained in its application so that others are safe at work, school or elsewhere. Yet whilst many of us know how to apply CPR, let’s face it, most of us are unsure what to do in the case of a mental health emergency.
Psychological first aid training helps first aiders recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and treat panic attacks, acute anxiety and severe stress correctly. One example is the CALMER framework, a series of six sequential stages designed to help alleviate symptoms and reduce the lasting impact of a mental health crisis.
According to the World Health Organisation, if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally. The promotion and roll out of psychological first aid is a key step that can be taken to ensure that mental ill health is addressed head on and I very much hope that widespread training can be incorporated into standard health and safety training in the not too distant future.
- Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
- He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
- He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
- He was Shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.
- He is Patron of the Parliamentary Space Committee (PSC) and was Chair of the PSC between 2010 and 2015.