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Mental health Company news South Africa

Building skills to deal with SA’s youth mental health crisis

According to Unicef’s 2023 U-Report poll, around 60% of South Africa’s children and youth felt in need of mental health support last year. The findings per age group showed this figure increased to 70% amongst those between 15 and 24 years. Mental health conditions affecting South African youth include anxiety and depression as well as substance abuse, suicide and self-harm.
Building skills to deal with SA’s youth mental health crisis

The stigma around mental health conditions in their families, school environments and communities causes fear of the reactions of parents, educators and peers, possibly inhibiting teens from revealing their mental health struggles. Sadag (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) reports that researchers estimate that only one in eight adolescents engaging in self-harming behaviours comes to the attention of clinical services. Behaviours around substance abuse, suicide and self-harming often engender shame and secrecy, fostering isolation which enables conditions to worsen.

Inge Nieuwoudt, educational psychologist and mental health practitioner says, “There is significant evidence that adult mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, can be traced to symptoms that appeared in adolescence or even childhood. As we deal with an escalating youth mental health crisis, we need better ways to recognise and address challenges early in life to prevent these becoming lifelong struggles and to improve overall well-being. The concept of Youth Mental Health First Aid has emerged to help build the skills of parents, teachers, community mental health and youth workers so that they become more adept at identifying early signs, providing stabilising comfort and helping young people access the professional support that they need.”

Inge will be presenting the Sacap Global Youth Mental Health First Aid CPD Workshop taking place on Tuesday, 25 June 2024, from 6pm to 7.30pm. The certified online training is primarily aimed at psychologists, registered counsellors and other mental health practitioners; however, it will also be widely of interest to educators and youth care workers. HPCSA registered counsellors and psychologists will receive 3 CPD points upon successful completion of the workshop. Participants can either attend the live webinar with Inge or watch the recording, and complete online reading and assessment tasks.

How does mental health first aid work?

Mental health first aid gives you skills and an action plan, known as ALGEE, so that you can provide support to a person in emotional distress, just as you would if you were administering first aid in the event of a physical injury.

Worldwide, millions of people have been trained to use the ALGEE action plan which includes five steps that can be used in any order:

A – Approach, assess for risk of suicide or harm – this involves starting a private and confidential conversation. If the person is reluctant to confide in you, you can encourage them to talk to someone they trust.
L – Listen nonjudgmentally– this is important for everyone, but particularly teens who may distrust being vulnerable with adults. It involves listening without interrupting, authentically feeling empathy for their situation and being accepting of their reality even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.
G – Give reassurance and information – Once a person has shared their experiences and emotions with you, you need to be equipped to share useful facts that will inspire hope.
E – Encourage appropriate professional help – Like traditional first aiders, you provide frontline support with the goal of assessing the situation and providing stabilisation. After that, you need to hand over and encouragingly point them in the direction of mental healthcare providers trained to provide acute and long-term interventions. The earlier someone gets help, the better their chances of recovery and therefore it is vital that you help them learn more about the options available to them.
E – Encourage self-help and other support strategies -. This includes helping the person come up with a personalised emotional and physical self-care plan and identifying their supporters in life.

At the Sacap Global Youth Mental Health First Aid CPD Workshop, attendees will gain an overview of the ALGEE Model with specific emphasis on the first step of A, approaching a conversation and the assessment of risk. To deepen their assessment capabilities, they will be exposed to specific knowledge about what suicide and self-harm entail, including the myths and realities associated with these behaviours and insights into Crisis First Aid for suicide and self-harm.

South Africa has a significant shortage of mental health skills, and through the Youth Mental Health First Aid CPD Workshop, Sacap Global aims to build urgently needed capacity in schools and communities. Karolyne Williams, head of strategic innovation at Sacap Global concludes, “We have well over half of South African children and youth reporting that they need mental health care, and this highlights how critical it is for a deeper and wider understanding of the challenges they are facing. It’s also essential to build skills in those interacting with the youth. With Mental Health First Aid training, they will know how to effectively and confidently provide immediate care and how to guide teens to further support without delay. By adding this CPD workshop to our Sacap Global offering, we aim to help add a layer of robustness at the frontlines of the South African mental healthcare system.”

SACAP Global’s Youth Mental Health First Aid CPD Workshop
Tuesday, 25 June 2024
6pm to 7.30pm
Online session
Cost: R420.00 per person
Register here

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