Mental Health First Aid Training is just as important as CPR
I attended an amazing Mental Health First Aid Training course, taught by Amy Stern, supervisor of Community Education and Professional Development, last week.
And I learned so much about mental health, like the fact that severe depression, dementia and schizophrenia have been rated even more debilitating of diseases than having cancer or being a paraplegic. Amy said this is because, if we see someone in a wheelchair, we'll open the door for him or her, help carry groceries, etc. If we see someone in a parking lot, wearing ragged clothes and talking to him or herself, likely we'll run away as quickly as we can.
I think Mental Health First Aid Training is very important because it teaches people that mental disorders ARE chemical imbalances in the brain and how to react when you find out someone suffers from a disorder or is considering suicide.
And Amy described the chemical imbalance in such an understandable way.
She used an analogy comparing the brain to a cell phone. She said, if a friend sent her a text message, asking her to meet for dinner that night, and she never received the text message on her phone, she wouldn't show up to where she was supposed to meet.
Like this, in the brain, two neurons "communicate" to one another. One neuron emits neurotransmitters, like endorphins, which tells the brain to be happy. For people suffering from depression or anxiety, the other neuron doesn't receive the "message." Instead, the neurotransmitters remain trapped in the synapse, or the space between the two neurons.
Since the transmitting neuron thinks it sent out too many neurotransmitters, since they are floating in between the neurons, it takes back the neurotransmitters, also called "reuptake." Now the other neuron doesn't even have a chance to receive the "happy feelings."
This proves that people with mental illnesses aren't choosing to feel this way. They can't just "snap out of it." And I think this is an important fact that everyone should know — which I think could eliminate the stigma society still seems to hold.