Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Youth Mental Health First Aid Synopsis

I find it useful to condense information down to a 3" by 5" index card.  The card is intended to be a reference tool with memory jogs rather than a comprehensive encyclopedia.

First Aid:  Preserve Life, Prevent further harm, Promote recovery and resilience, Provide comfort to the afflicted. The goal is to provide a womb of empathy until professionals take over or the crisis resolves.

ALGEE:  A hokey acronym but it will grow on you.
  • Assess for suicide or harm:  Ask them straight-up, direct questions.  We cannot cognitively process ideas that we cannot name. 
  • Listen nonjudgmentally: Use your active listening skills. Young people get all torqued up inside and sometimes do really dumb things.  As adults we understand that we cannot undo the past.  The past is what it is.  As a listener accept it and move on.  Avoid treating the person as if "they are a problem to be solved."
  • Give reassurance and information:   Many, maybe even most, people struggle with issues like anxiety, behaviors, moods or substance abuse in their teens. You are not alone.
  • Encourage appropriate professional help: Nearly all (90%) people who experience mental health issues can get significant relief through a combination of drugs and counseling.
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies:  If you experienced this before, how were you able to deal with it?  What parts worked?
Biggest protective factor:  A adult that the young person is comfortable talking to about sensitive issues.

Based on Median age of onset the four disorders that are most likely to create a first aid crisis in an adolescents are Anxiety disorders, Eating disorders, Substance abuse disorders and Bi-polar disorder.  While ADHD is common it is not likely to precipitate a crisis although it may exhibit comorbidity with other issues.

Suicide hotlines.  Hint, add to contact list on phone:
1-800-799-4889 (for hearing and/or speach impaired)


  1. Good points and worth following suit. Thanks!

    1. Thank-you for reading and thank-you for your kind comments.