The Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre (BCMFRC) is launching in Langley its first-ever course in mental health first aid for medically released veterans and their families.
Taking place Sept. 26 and 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre, the course, which grants Mental Health First Aid — Veteran Community certification, is free and open to anyone in the community to take.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. In any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
While regular first aid courses prepare people for family medical emergencies such as burns and sprains, the mental health first aid course takes that preparedness to the next level, providing valuable, potentially life-saving information and crisis intervention skills to manage mental health challenges.
A range of mental health issues will be covered, including mood, anxiety, trauma-related, psychotic and substance use disorders. The course will also teach first aid skills for dealing with drug overdose, suicidal behaviour, panic attacks, psychosis and acute stress reaction.
The goal is to enable participants to build the skills and confidence necessary to engage in effective conversations about mental health, help them recognize the most common mental health problems and illnesses, increase their comfort level with, and willingness to, help others, and decrease the stigma and discrimination around mental health problems and illnesses.
“Mental health issues are often met with significant stigma in the world. That’s what’s so great about Mental Health First Aid – Veteran Community: because the course is about helping others, participants don’t have to worry about standing out as having a problem if they attend,” said Tracy Cromwell, BCMFRC executive director.
“In this way, the course is truly non-threatening for those who’d like to learn more about dealing with these issues.”
Mental Health First Aid – Veteran Community is one component of a new Veteran Family Program launched last April, which BCMFRC delivers on behalf of Veteran Affairs Canada. The Veteran Family Program supports the health and well-being of families as they transition from military to civilian life.
Space is limited and registration will be on a first come, first served basis. Register by Sept. 21 by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more, go to www.bcmfrc.com. Additional sessions are planned for other B.C. locations in the year ahead.