We all understand the need and purpose of first aid when dealing with accidents and physical health concerns. The concept of first-aid is just as the name implies. First aid might not be the only treatment an injury or illness requires, but it is essential to help that when rendered appropriately, increases the chances of a good outcome. Mental health first aid has the same goal.
Telemedicine has taken a prominent role for many health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have learned that mental first aid can often be administered via a telephone call or video chat. Though nothing replaces in-person mental health care, telemedicine and other technology should play a role in mental health treatment going forward.
Arcara Psychiatry in Boston, MA, teaches clients how to be prepared to render first aid for themselves or family members, in the event of a mental health crisis. Taking care of your mind, with the same thoughtful care you give your body, is crucial for ongoing mental health.
Mental Health First Aid for Yourself and Others
Whether you are taking care of your mental health or helping someone else, several crucial things can help make a difference, especially during a mental health crisis.
Talk about your feelings
Find someone you trust, a friend, family member, or mental care provider, and open up about how you are feeling. Often, this can sound so easy, but it is one of the hardest steps on the path to being mentally healthy. Talking helps us to get our thoughts and feelings out of our heads and relieves the burden of keeping things bottled up. Sometimes, all we need is to know someone listening to help us feel less alone and overwhelmed.
Stay active even if you don’t feel like it
Exercise releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel good. Staying active helps us to feel better about ourselves, and helps us to maintain energy while also boosting physical health. Staying physically active also serves to give structure to our day and improves the quality of sleep. Often, if we are depressed, anxious, or worried, the last thing we feel like doing is exercising. However, research proves that exercising boosts our overall sense of well-being. These things combine to improve our overall mental health.
Maintain a healthy diet
Much like exercise, eating healthy is often not appealing when we are struggling with mental health issues. Eating healthy helps provide your brain the nutrients it needs to remain healthy, and also has the benefit of boosting our self-esteem and the overall sense of well-being. Going through the ritual of shopping and cooking healthy food gives us a sense of remaining in control of one aspect of our lives, even when other things seem beyond our control.
Take a break
Whether it is a ten-minute meditation break in the middle of a project at work, or a long weekend relaxing at your favorite place, it is essential to give yourself a mental break. Just as our bodies can become rundown and exhausted without proper rest, our brains work the same way. Taking a mental health break allows us to recharge and reset so that we are ready to tackle whatever comes next. We need “me time” to take care of our emotional and mental health, so permit yourself to step away from your life for a few minutes, or a day or two. The people who depend on us will get a happier, healthier version of us when we make taking care of ourselves a priority.
Reach out to help others
Caring for others helps us to maintain healthy relationships with the people around us. Everyone needs someone to take care of them from time to time, so make sure you are that person for people in your life.
Volunteer work is also an excellent way to step outside your own problems by serving others. Helping others can often give us a perspective about our own issues while allowing us to feel good that we are doing something positive for someone else. Research has shown that those who consistently dedicate a portion of their lives to volunteer work are less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health issues.