youth mental health first aid | ALGEE | Terezia Farkas


ALGEE is CPR for mental health. Mental Health First Aid trains you to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. That crisis could be anything from a trauma flashback like in PTSD, to abusing a substance, to risk taking, to contemplating suicide. In cases like these, a friend or family member often doesn’t know what to do. Do you contact police or ambulance, or can you just talk it through with the person? Is the person worse off than he/she is showing? ALGEE gives you a framework – a step by step process for you to follow.

Judgemental thinking and common sense won’t work in a mental health crisis

A person in mental health crisis doesn’t want to be told to calm down, or things will get better, or things are really not that bad. For that person, the world might be crashing down and there isn’t a future. Bringing up God or affirmative and encouraging messages are also usually big failures. What the person needs is mental health CPR.

That’s where Mental Health First Aid comes in. MHFA is a mental health CPR program that teaches ordinary people how to help someone in mental health crisis. There are two types of Mental Health First Aid courses – adult and youth. Topics covered include depression, anxiety, addictions, and psychosis. The course is 8 hours long, and lets you practice what you’ve learned. Most importantly, it provides a 5-step action plan, called ALGEE.

The Five Steps Of ALGEE



ALGEE means you do the following :

ASSESS for risk of suicide or harm.

LISTEN non-judgmentally.

GIVE re-assurance and information.

ENCOURAGE appropriate professional help.

ENCOURAGE self-help and other support strategies.

Many people don’t ask for help

Many people struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or substance abuse don’t ask for help. They hide their problems. Often times family and friends don’t realize someone is struggling until there is an attempt at suicide.

ALGEE teaches you to notice the symptoms of depression, and how to interact with the person. With anxiety, you calm a person down by having the person focus on the five senses. You learn how to deal with someone who hears voices in his/her head. In all of these cases, you practice being non-judgemental. You never tell the person, “It’s all in your head.”

You learn to be empathetic

Empathy is something you get better at with practice. ALGEE lets you practice empathy, so that when a real life situation happens, you’re prepared to react with true compassion and understanding. Practice situations also allow you to recognize where you can do better with advice, listening, or being pro-active instead of reactive to a situation.

For more information, contact  Mental Health First Aid,  a United States national program. Mental health first aid is an idea whose time has come.

Find me on twitter @tereziafarkas

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