Mental Health First Aid

Early recognition is an essential part of our healthcare environment. Annual checkups, routine screenings and messages about noticing unusual physical symptoms are actively promoted. It’s reasonable that the sooner we notice feeling unwell and get some assistance, the greater our likelihood of mitigating the severity of the symptom.

Do we hear the same messages about mental health conditions? Sadly when someone experiences the symptoms of a mental health condition, these feelings might be ignored, minimized or not recognized as signs of an illness. People in that person’s circle of family, friends and colleagues might also fail to notice changes in the person’s behavior or mood, or might interpret changes as something else: as the person being crabby, angry, needy or unpleasant to be around. “What’s wrong with him?” they might think. Even when support people recognize a problem they might not know how to reach out and approach someone experiencing difficulty.

Research shows that about 20% of US adults experience mental health distress annually but only 41% receive treatment. Improving community capacity to recognize and respond to mental health distress is a critical step forward. Mental Health First Aid courses can do just that.

Mental Health First Aid is a public education course that teaches how to notice when someone demonstrates signs or symptoms of mental distress and provides a five step action plan to assist. The action plan improves trainees’ skills on starting a conversation and connecting people with care. Skills can be used when someone is developing a mental health problem or in crisis.

Denise Elsbree, LCSW, MHFA Community Liaison, Linden Oaks

Info Corner

Join more than 1 million people who have already been trained in Mental Health First Aid. For more information about classes contact or visit the Linden Oaks website at:

Let’s make B4Stage4 our goal in the campaign for mental health.