• African Mental Health First Aid

SCHOOLS

WHY SCHOOLS ON THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA NEED AFRICAN MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID (AMHFA) TRAINING

Before the pandemic, one in five teenagers in Africa had thought about suicide according to a study released in 2021, And this was the highest
such prevalence in the world.(www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(20)30139-5/fulltext).


In Sub Saharan Africa,1 in 7 young people aged 5 to 16 are affected by mental health problems, with 2 in 10 affected by post traumatic stress
disorder, anxiety, and depression.

That is around four children in every class. This is why early intervention is crucial, yet few school programmes on the continent of Africa, focus on sustainable mental health programs and interventions that can help young people manage their stresses. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1107721).

Why Mental Health Matters in Schools
  1. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 10-14.
  2. 1 in 5 (One in five) children aged 13-18 (22 percent) will experience a severe mental health disorder at some point during their life.
  3. More than 37 percent of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older drop out of school—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
How Youth Mental Health First Aid Can Help in Schools
  1. Reduces stigma from an early age
  2. Teaches risk factors and warning signs for a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents.
  3. Prepares educators to recognize and respond to mental health and substance use challenges in their students.
  4. Provides educators an action plan to support students experiencing mental health and substance use challenges.

AMHFA WHAT IT IS

AMHFA Vs Psychological Counsellors


AMHFA skills are different from the work of mental health professionals. It has a focus on immediate support to someone who is experiencing a
mental health crisis, like panic attacks, anxiety, emotional distress, suicidal thoughts and drug and alcohol overdose.


AMHFA skills do not provide a clinical diagnosis as to what mental health issues a person maybe suffering from. That is the work of mental
health professionals. What AMHFA does is give ‘first aid’ or ‘stand in the gap’ until the person is able to be seen by mental health professionals
or the crisis is resolved.


When used appropriately, mental health first aid can help someone regain a sense of calmness. Just as anyone can learn CPR basics, everyone can
learn how to provide mental health first aid. There is no medical training required to learn this type of first aid, and people of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from understanding how to help someone who’s experiencing a mental health crisis, in addition to
learning about mental health Self Care

AMHFA is NOT  a counselling program. It is a capacity building non medical mental health intervention, tailored to the African mental health
story, which has a history of inhumanely mistreating people suffering from mental illnesses due to lack of mental health education, awareness and
understanding. This has made the mistreatment of sufferers of mental illness, a human rights issue.


AMHFA educates people on mental health issues, the common unique risk factors and warning signs for a variety of mental health challenges. It helps break the stigma by breaking the myths and taboos surrounding mental illness on the continent of Africa, while addressing the importance of early intervention. It is also designed to help people recognize, respond through support and carry out conversations with those who are
affected.


AMHFA exists to put ‘unspoken’ mental health issues in Africa on the platform, creating a space where people can learn and talk about mental
health issues without shame or fear, teaching people to take responsibility of understanding mental ill health, self care and help those affected treating them with respect and dignity.


The impact of that first supportive conversation for any individual, and in particular a young person, in a time of need can be profound.
It is the initial help offered to someone who is experiencing a mental health problem or a mental or emotional crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

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