Mental Health First Aid Pilot Project
In January 2019, CLAC launched a nationwide mental health first aid (MHFA) pilot project. The project involves two-day courses designed primarily for stewards and CLAC staff to equip them in their workplaces and relationships. Over 250 people have gone through CLAC’s two-day MHFA course to date, and the success of the program has led to approval for a second year.
Although some may find the idea of taking a course like this intimidating, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with many who were initially reluctant urging their fellow members to take the course too. CLAC Workplace Health and Wellness Coordinator Miranda O’Krane compares the program to level one first aid. Just as first-aid responders are not expected to act as physicians, mental health first responders are not expected to be counsellors or solve peoples’ problems. Rather, they are trained to recognize symptoms, know how to get challenging situations under control, and ask for additional help.
Everyone has been touched by the challenges posed by mental health, either personally or with a loved one, whether it is relatively minor or severe and chronic. Not only has the program equipped graduates to help others, but it also gives them knowledge and tools to seek help for themselves.
Class sizes are small, from 8 to 25 participants, which allows for a personalized environment. Graduates have remarked that hearing others’ stories and being able to share their own in a safe space made them realize that they were not alone in their struggles and that talking about mental health should be normal.
Currently, in-house trainer Quentin Steen, a CLAC rep based in the Kelowna Member Centre, teaches courses throughout BC. If you are interested in attending MHFA training, contact Larry Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Miranda O’Krane at email@example.com or speak to your union representative. To learn more about the course, visit mhfa.ca.