In order to be able to give Mental Health First Aid to a young person, first aiders need some basic knowledge about mental disorders to allow them to recognise that a problem may be developing.
Youth Mental Health First Aid will be used by adults to help a young person who they have observed as changed in his or her thinking, emotions and/or behaviour. Once these changes have been observed, the first aider can then follow a plan for how to respond.
The following Mental Health First Aid Action Plan provides five basic actions for this purpose. These actions will help the person giving first aid to remain calm and confident, and to respond in an appropriate way to give the best help.
Action A: Ask about suicide
Action L: Listen non-judgmentally
Action G: Give reassurance and information
Action E: Encourage the young person to get appropriate help and support
Action E: Encourage self-help strategies
As in any first aid action plan, the initial task is to assess the risk of harm to self or others and to try to reduce any risk that is present. In a situation involving a person with a mental health problem, the greatest risks are that the person may harm themselves, the person experiences extreme distress, or the person is seen as threatening by others.
Although the action of asking about suicide is the highest priority, the other actions listed above may need to occur first. Therefore these actions are not necessarily steps to be followed in a fixed order. The helper has to use judgement about the order of these actions and needs to be flexible and responsive to the individual they are helping.