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Mental Health First Aid Training

Most people know what to do when faced with a person who is choking or twisting their ankle, but what about a person who is in psychological distress and is having an anxiety attack or is talking about suicide as a solution to his or her problems? Would you be afraid of this situation? Would you know what to do or say? For many people, the answer is no.

Indeed, still in the 21st century, mental disorders are frightening. People who suffer from them are stigmatized. How many burn-out patients experience this as a failure, are seen as weak, slackers? All this explains why 75% of people suffering from mental disorders are not taken care of. It is urgent to destigmatize these pathologies.



In the early 2000s, in Australia, more precisely in Canberra, a psychologist and a nurse developed a certified Mental Health First Aid training (https://mhfa.com.au) based on the traditional first aid training model. In 2013, Scotland was the first country to import the concept, and by 2020 no less than 4 million people have been trained around the world in more than 20 countries. In 2020, Luxembourg was the 25th country to offer these courses.



The mental health first aid training is not a diagnostic or therapeutic tool, but a pragmatic tool to act when facing a person in psychological distress. Numerous situations are addressed: from depressive disorders or anxiety disorders to addictions, psychoses but also crisis situations such as suicide, panic attacks, aggressiveness.

At the end of the training, the first aider is able to identify psychological distress and knows how to approach the person, how to guide and orient him/her.
On a practical side, the training consists of 4 modules and lasts 12 hours.


Some key figures on the usefulness of such training

According to a study carried out in the European Union before the health crisis, the prevalence (= number of new cases per year) of psychological disorders is 38.2%, i.e. more than 200,000 people per year in Luxembourg.. Anxiety disorders lead the way (14%) followed by depression (6.9%) and it is likely that the past two years have contributed to an increase in these numbers. In addition, the disability — that is, the restriction of a person’s ability to perform normal activities such as working, caring for oneself, maintaining relationships — for people with these disorders is huge.



In Luxembourg, disability due to depression and anxiety is among the top ten causes of lost years of healthy life. All these figures illustrate the need to address mental disorders and stop stigmatizing them, because the earlier they are treated, the faster they will recover.


Are you interested in this course? Contact your referring physician or contact the ASTF at accueil@astf.lu


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