Mental health training to be part of first aid courses

St. John Ambulance is making mental health training part of its standard and emergency first aid courses.

“We currently offer mental health first aid courses in several provinces,” said Philip Clarke, chancellor of the Priory Council that oversees St. John Ambulance.

“Integrating a mental health module into our standard and emergency first aid courses is the next evolution of our commitment to the mental health of Canadians.”

The integrated module, which will be available nationally starting next year, is being supported by a $150,000 donation from Bell’s Let’s Talk program. The training includes how to recognize high-risk situations and when it’s urgent to immediately contact professionals. More than 500,000 Canadians take first aid courses each year.

“Having someone nearby who is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness can make such an important difference for someone experiencing a crisis,” said Let’s Talk national spokesperson Clara Hughes. “Providing initial help and guiding a person toward appropriate professional resources is just as important for our mental health as for our physical well-being.”

Bell donates five cents to mental health programs for every text message, mobile call, and long-distance call made by its customers during its Let’s Talk Day event in January. Last year, the event raised more than $6.2 million.

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