BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Last week, Bell Let’s Talk announced a $150,000 donation to St. John Ambulance that will support the integration of mental health training in standard and emergency First Aid courses.
“Addressing healthcare needs should include a person’s access to mental health support. With the support of Bell Let’s Talk, St. John Ambulance is poised to evolve our First Aid courses, which are delivered to more than 500,000 Canadians each year, to include a new mental health component,” said Philip Clarke, chancellor of St. John Ambulance.
“We currently offer Mental Health First Aid courses in several provinces stemming from our partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Integrating a mental health module into our standard and emergency First Aid courses is the next evolution of our commitment to the mental health of Canadians.”
The integrated module will be available nationally starting in 2018. Courses in English and French will be offered in workplaces, hospitals, schools and communities.
Canadians will learn what to do in an emergency, including how to recognize high risk situations.
“Having someone nearby who is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness can make such an important difference for someone experiencing a crisis,” said Bell Let’s Talk national spokesperson Clara Hughes.
“Providing initial help and guiding a person toward appropriate professional resources is just as important for our mental health as for our physical well-being.”
St. John Ambulance CEO Allan Smith said the partnership with Bell Let’s Talk presents St. John Ambulance with the opportunity to save lives in more ways.
He said it allows the organization to put more of a focus on mental health first aid, recognizing crisis situations and helping to educate people on the best reactions in those scenarios.
“Mental health first aid fits very well into (the St. John Ambulance) mission and is something that we didn’t have a focus on in the past. It’s great to have partners to help us shift in that direction, as it will benefit all Canadians. When we say we want to improve health, safety and quality of life, we must include mental health as well,” Smith said.
St. Johns Ambulance will be using the donated funds from Bell Let’s Talk in order to research and change over their learning materials to include a focus on mental health.
Smith said part of that process includes an extensive research phase to be able to provide the most up-to-date information to St. John Ambulance training participants.
The money will also be used to re-write manuals and re-distribute St. John Ambulance training materials with the new inclusion of mental health information.