When the chance came to take part in a Mental Health First Aid Course (MHFA) through Dorset Mind, I didn’t think twice about putting my name down. I had heard very good things about the training. I wanted to be able to learn essential skills that may help somebody who is in a crisis, and maybe even help to save a life. Sometimes we might go on a course and never be in a situation whereby we need to use the skills acquired. But those skills are always there, banked within us so we can be prepared and ready to take appropriate action.
Just in case
Earlier this year, I experienced one of those ‘just in case’ situations, but this particular situation was a crisis moment for an individual. I was in a circumstance where I needed to remain calm and put what I learnt on the MHFA course into practice. This was real life and is why we offer these courses.
It was on an early morning in mid summer that I decided to get up and out on my bike before starting the working day. This is something I do on a regular basis, but not something I had planned to do that day… although I am so glad I did.
I hadn’t been out long before I noticed an individual sitting on the floor and seeming a little upset. I could have cycled past and not thought much of it, but I didn’t. Something wasn’t right, I had a sense that this person may not be ok and I had to stop. That was the right thing to do. This person was in distress and appeared to be a moment of crisis. I sat down at a distance and began a conversation, making sure to respect their space and to show I was there to listen and help. All the time I was there, my priority was to ensure the individual was safe. I was thinking back to my training, going over what I learnt and trying to be as calm as possible.
As the time went on, the individual talked more and more and the best thing I could do was to listen. Just listen to them, acknowledge how they were feeling and when appropriate, I gave signposting information that might be helpful. I waited there until they made the first move to show they were ready to come away from the situation and we parted ways in a much more positive and forward thinking manner. I was confident I’d helped diverted a crisis.
The ALGEE method
Upon reflection and thinking back to this situation, the ALGEE action plan we were taught in the MHFA course had been put into practice:
- Assess – the situation was assessed for any signs of suicide or harm
- Listen – listening played a huge part in this situation
- Give – information and reassurance to the individual
- Encourage – where to find appropriate professional help
- Encourage – support strategies and other methods of self-help
I am so thankful that I was in the right place at the right time on this particular day.
And I will be eternally grateful for the skills and knowledge I learnt on the Mental Health First Aid Course. Going through the training and applying what was learnt helped me to stay calm and know what to do in this situation.
I would recommend anyone to do this course if you have the opportunity; it can enhance your life and make a real difference to somebody else; you never know when you might need to put the skills and learning into practice.
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Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.