This article aims to provide basic information about the basics of mental health. It is part 2 of a 4-part series. All names and identities are fictious & are not based on anyone in yachting.
We hope to broaden your perspective & help you understand & unravel the mysteries of mental health. It is time we embrace this topic & all join together by understanding it is ok not to be ok.
The impact of mental illness
Not only are mental illnesses very common, they can also have a major impact on people’s lives. In this article we will examine some brief case studies & examine the importance of mental health first aid in each example. We will go on to discuss the necessity of self-care for the mental health first aider. Plus review the elements of intervention, support & treatments available.
Captain Andrew, 45 year old male – symptoms of depression.
“I’m so tired all the time. I have no motivation and even the simplest things seem impossible. I can’t seem to get through my work. My partner and I don’t seem to be getting along – she thinks I’m being lazy, when really, everything’s so much effort I can hardly stand it.”
Chef Sabine, 28 year old chef – symptoms of anxiety
“Even the smallest jobs seem to stress me out so much. Things like replying to all my emails make me worry for hours, until I decide I’ll just deal with them tomorrow. I keep cancelling social events at the last minute and last week I called in sick to work rather than go to an important crew dinner. I can’t keep going like this.”
Andrew and Sabine could have been supported with mental health first aid.
First aid is the initial help given to a person who is ill or injured before professional medical help can be obtained.
Similarly, mental health first aid is the initial help offered to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves.
We must remember Self-care & our scope of practice.
Helping people who are experiencing mental health problems can be stressful. Those who do it frequently (whether because of a role at work, mental health problems in family members, or in the broader community) are at increased risk of developing mental health problems themselves. There are things you can do to reduce your own risk of such problems.
It is important to care for yourself. After providing mental health first aid to a person who is in distress, you may feel worn out, frustrated or even angry. You may also need to deal with the feelings and reactions you set aside during the encounter. It can be helpful to find someone to talk to about what has happened. If you do this, though, you need to remember to respect the person’s right to privacy; if you talk to someone, don’t share the name of the person you helped, or any personal details which might make them identifiable to the person you choose to share with.
Know when to refer people to the right practitioners, do not attempt to be any kind of a replacement counsellor. We recommend you follow the steps below.
1.Approach, assess & assist.
2.Listen non judgementally.
3.Give support & information about certified practitioners
4.Encourage appropriate professional health
5.Encourage professional support
Interventions & Support
There are a number of phases a person goes through as they become unwell, from mild symptoms that can worsen as the illness develops, through to recovery as symptoms improve. At the different phases, different interventions and supports are appropriate.
Mental health first aid is just one part of the spectrum of a wide range of interventions available to promote recovery from mental health illness.
Types of interventions and supports
There are different types of interventions and supports appropriate at different states of mental health, ranging from:
- Prevention programs for people who are well or who have mild symptoms.
- Early intervention programs for people moving from mild symptoms to a diagnosable mental illness.
- Treatments and supports for the person unwell with a mental illness through to recovery.
- Prevention programs
Prevention programs include
- Public stigma reduction campaigns, such as “Life is for living”
- Drug education programs available in social media & local industry press, such as the Islander, Dock Walk, Yacht Radio & the like.
- Resilience training courses, such as ashore run by Impact Crew & Crew Glue.
- Stress management courses, such as those run by MJB Global
- Team building, such as Impact Crew, Crew Glue, MJB Global.
Early intervention programs
Early intervention programs are programs which aim to ‘nip it in the bud’ or catch it early, to prevent problems from becoming more serious. It is during this early intervention phase that mental health first aid can play an important role.
Treatments and supports
Treatments and supports include:
- Medical treatments such as medications.
- Psychological treatments such as counselling offered by a certified specialist, cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy.
- Complementary treatments and lifestyle changes such as natural or Alternative Therapies, Adventure sports, Outdoor activities & Re-Wilding. Basically changing the way one lives.
Early intervention aims to ‘nip it in the bud’ – the longer the delay the more difficult recovery may be.
“When it comes to mental illness, it’s not a one size fits all approach.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the treatment and support of people with mental health problems. People need a mix of treatments and supports that fits their individual preferences and needs. There’s a wide variety of treatments and supports available for people with mental health problems. These include medical treatments provided by a doctor, such as prescription medications, psychological treatments in which the person learns to change the way they think and behave, and complementary treatments and lifestyle changes, which can be advised by a health practitioner or used as self-help. However, it’s not only professional help that’s important.
People with mental health problems recover more quickly if they are well supported by family and friends. They can also benefit from support groups where they share their experiences with other people who’ve had similar problems. People also recover better when they’re able to participate in the life of their community through employment, study or community service. In the following issues of the Islander, we’ll be presenting information about the range of interventions which have evidence of effectiveness for different types of mental illness.
Mental health in Yachting
Whilst generally it is better for our mental health to be employed, it is the quality of our work and our workplace that is important. A mentally healthy workplace is one that promotes a positive culture, minimises risks to employees’ mental health, supports employees with mental illness and prevents discrimination.
Crew with mental health first aid skills can help colleagues, family, friends and if appropriate guests, who have untreated mental health problems, or may be using alcohol or other drugs to cope.
How to move forward & create a happy crew.
Talk to your colleague’s, friends & family about how you can create a supportive & mentally well environment today.
Be the change you wish to see in yachting, talk to people, get educated. Inspire others to take an interest. The only way forward is through de-mystifying mental health.
It is only through Education & acceptance that we will be able to make space for mental health in yachting. I believe that Mental Health First Aid must be mandatory on yachts, let’s make room for it, let’s talk about it & let’s make it cool!
Coach, Registered Nurse & Medical Trainer @ MSOS
MIPH, BHS NURS/NUT
The Islander team are also working to help and support people who maybe suffering from alcohol or drug addictions. You can get help and receive more information: