The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru has completed training over 5,000 community members, within a span of three years, as first responders to tackle mental health issues.
The institute holds sessions once every three months, where 40 people are trained in a batch.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Dr SK Chaturvedi, senior professor of psychiatry and HOD, Department of Mental Health Education, NIMHANS, said, “the programme was started in the year 2016 as per the theme for world mental health day in that year. We have trained around 5,000 people under ‘psychological and mental health first aid for all’ theme. The few people who completed the course in the workshop will now train the new batches too. Most people know how to give first aid during physical injury but not for mental health. Hence we have started this programme. The people trained here can give counselling and also help people who are in various kinds of stress, children facing exam stress, people nervous about work and career and people with suicidal tendencies.”
“Trained personnel can also help the patient to seek professional help,” he added
Most of those trained as community health workers come from different walks of life including IT employees, homemakers, and cab or auto-rickshaw drivers.
“First Aid for Mental Health Problems is a two-hour training program, designed to give people a set of skills to assess people at risk for developing mental illness and to provide initial assistance,” says Prof. B.N. Gangadhar, Director of NIMHANS. The next season will be held in December and the registration cost for students is Rs 150 and Rs 250 for working professionals.
According to NIMHANS, the benefits of the course include the ability to spot the early signs of mental health issues, confidently helping someone who is experiencing a problem, helping stop a mental issue from getting worse, and helping the patient seek the right professional help.