Mental health first aid course for military and RCMP veterans

The Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre (BCMFRC) believes that the strongest force is family and, for that reason, is presenting in West Kelowna its mental health first aid course for medically released veterans and RCMP, their family members, and anyone who provides service to them.

Kelowna is home to a Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC) office that has served more than 1,000 military veterans, as well as the British Columbia Dragoons, a military unit. Approximately 120 military families live in the Okanagan area, mostly in Kelowna.

Mental Health First Aid – Veteran Community is one component of a new Veteran Family Program launched last April which BCMFRC delivers on behalf of VAC. The Veteran Family Program supports the health and well-being of families as they transition from military to civilian life.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. In any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.

It’s not uncommon for people to learn regular first aid to prepare them for family medical emergencies such as burns and sprains. The mental health first aid course takes that preparedness to the next level, providing valuable, potentially life-saving information and crisis intervention skills to manage mental health challenges.

A range of mental health issues will be covered by the course, including mood, anxiety, trauma-related, psychotic and substance use disorders. The course will also teach skills for dealing with drug overdose, suicidal behaviour, panic attacks, psychosis and acute stress reaction.

Ultimately, the course will enable participants to build the skills and confidence necessary to engage in effective conversations about mental health, help them recognize the most common mental health problems and illnesses, increase their comfort level with, and willingness to, help others, and decrease the stigma and discrimination around mental health problems and illnesses.

“Mental health issues are often met with significant stigma in the world. That’s what’s so great about Mental Health First Aid – Veteran Community:  because the course is about helping others, participants don’t have to worry about standing out as having a problem if they attend. In this way, the course is truly non-threatening for those who’d like to learn more about dealing with these issues,” said Tracy Cromwell, BCMFRC executive director.

Although designed for medically released veterans and RCMP and their family members, the two-day course is free and open to anyone, and grants certification in Mental Health First Aid – Veteran Community to those who complete it. It takes place March 16 and 17, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the Gellatly Room of the Holiday Inn West Kelowna, 2569 Dobbin Road. Space is limited with priority given to medically released/releasing veterans and RCMP, and families. Register by March 14 by contacting veterans@bcmfrc.com.     

To find out more, go to:  https://www.cafconnection.ca/Mainland-BC/Adults/Wellness/Mental-Health-First-Aid.aspx .