Mental health to be covered in first-aid courses

The Canadian Red Cross will start incorporating mental health programming into its standard first aid training, enabling Canadians to recognize the signs and symptoms of a developing mental health emergency.
"Good mental health is the key to a safe and healthy community," said Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. "We are proud to launch these new programs that will empower both individual Canadians and first responders to provide compassion and care to those experiencing emotional trauma and mental health distress."

The program is supported by Bell Let's Talk, an initiative that promotes mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns including Bell Let's Talk Day, taking place today.

This new mental health training component will also be incorporated into the new section on mental health under the "learn" tab in the Red Cross First Aid App.

"This partnership between the Canadian Red Cross and Bell Let's Talk will provide Canadians everywhere with the resources to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health distress during an emergency," said Mary Deacon, chair of Bell Let's Talk. "Initiatives like this are a crucial step in building mental health consideration into every level of health care, and to ensuring Canadians experiencing a mental health crisis get the support they need as quickly as possible."

A new Canadian Red Cross program will also be launched that is focused on training first responders to look beyond physical symptoms and evaluate emotional well-being following an emergency such as a natural disaster.

A new survey of 1,000 Canadians commissioned by the Red Cross found that while the vast majority of Canadians (98 per cent) feel it's important to respond to a mental health emergency, less than one-half would be comfortable taking action. The research further revealed that younger Canadians (age 18 to 34) were most likely to recognize a developing mental health emergency than other age categories.

The survey results found that most Canadians did not feel confident in their ability to assist with a range of mental health issues:

•depression (51 per cent)
•suicidal thoughts (59 per cent)
•acute stress (61 per cent)
•psychotic episode (73 per cent).

Mental health training will be fully integrated into Canadian Red Cross first-aid courses by winter 2017. The training program for first responders will be available across Canada in 2017. The mental health updates for the mobile app will be integrated by the fall.