Mental Health First Aid Training

The Cause

Approximately 1 in 8 people face mental issues in some shape or form. Despite this statistic, many people don’t get help when needed because looking for mental health resources can be a very disheartening, frustrating and time-consuming process. Mental Health Copilots (MHC) exists to target this exact problem. MHC is a charitable organization that connects Albertans to affordable and accessible mental health resources. Our organization strives to reduce barriers to mental health care, and to empower individuals to take the next step in their mental health journey. MHC volunteers provide long-term support that connects individuals and mental health professionals across Alberta by identifying our clients' mental health needs and helping them choose resources from a comprehensive database that caters towards their financial, cultural and geographic needs. MHC also maintains a publicly accessible database of mental health providers available for those who wish to find support on their own. MHC is almost entirely volunteer-run. The creation and growth of the organization has only been possible through the hard work of our dedicated volunteers.

To ensure that our volunteers provide high-quality and impactful services, MHC would like to use the Field Law Community Fund to provide our volunteers with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training. MHFA is an internationally recognized educational standard that teaches individuals to recognize warning signs for mental health issues. This will allow our volunteers an opportunity to gain the skills necessary when interacting with a diverse population of mental health patients. The training is meant to increase confidence, increase awareness, and decrease stigma for those working with mental health. This training would be invaluable for MHC volunteers, who regularly interact with community members seeking to improve their mental health in one-on-one settings and online. They would be providing support to the community members while connecting them with appropriate resources. Our idea is to provide our entire volunteer team with this training.

With this funding, MHC would coordinate with MHFA providers to begin training sessions in 2024. Once the training dates for the virtual and in-person sessions are selected, they will be communicated to the volunteers via email. The MHC Client Copilot Team Lead would ensure that their volunteers have completed their training first as they work with the community directly.

Who Will it Benefit?

The MHC Mental Health Training Project would benefit both the clients who reach out to our organization for support and the volunteers who communicate directly with the clients.

The training would benefit the clients, Albertans aged 18 and over seeking mental health services for themselves, a minor, or another adult due to concerns such as addiction, depression, disordered eating, lack of motivation, loss of a loved one, or post-traumatic stress. The quality of their interactions with the MHC team would improve due to MHFA training, as volunteers would learn concrete ways to better meet the needs of clients and increase the comfort of a person experiencing a mental health issue or crisis.

MHFA training would also benefit the individuals who complete the course. For instance, MHC volunteers who communicate directly with clients would increase their capacity to respond to emergencies (such as an individual experiencing urgent suicidal thoughts) with confidence and skill. Similarly, volunteers who interact with the public through social media would enhance their ability to provide accurate information and dispel myths about mental health issues. By providing volunteers with the education needed to effectively complete their duties and respond to challenges, MHFA would improve volunteer satisfaction and facilitate personal growth through problem-solving. Furthermore, members of the public who receive MHFA training would gain skills they may not have otherwise developed due to the cost of attending a session. They can apply this information during their interactions with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers.