Mental Health First Aid and the Facilitator
by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Strategic Communications
I just finished my first-ever Mental Health First Aid course with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. You can learn more about their courses here: https://mhfa.ca/
As a facilitator, I wanted to build out my toolbox to better support participants, particularly as we engage on potentially difficult or triggering conversations. While I learned a lot in the course, I also learned that much of the ALGEES approach (more on that later) is actually about helping a person facilitate their own action plan. As with facilitation, it’s about knowing when to engage using a variety of open- and closed-ended questions so that the person feels safe and can start to think about action planning and next steps.
The ALGEES framework is based on the following approach:
Assess the risk of suicide and/or harm
Encourage professional support
Encourage other supports
Selfcare for the First Aider
What struck me with this approach is the S of Selfcare for the First Aider. I think, as facilitators, self care is something at which we could do a better job. Personally speaking, I know that I take on a lot of responsibility for how every session goes – the feel of the room and the experience of participants. So, my hope is that I, along with my fellow facilitators, will see that:
- We are well positioned to be mental health first aiders,
- We likely will have opportunities to practise the principles of mental health first aid, and
- It is important that, when supporting others, we also take care of ourselves.
Thank you to my course instructor Cliff Thorbes and all the participants in our course.
Stay well, Jessica