In Paris, vital training to manage mental health emergencies

In Paris, vital training to manage mental health emergencies

Little is known about first aid measures for mental health. However, they can save lives as more and more French people suffer from psychological disorders.

In a bright room, the trainer kindly invites eleven women and five men to get up from their chairs. “Observe how, standing up, you are more tense. » Séverine pauses, then continues with a smile: “Once seated, you will feel calmer, and this will encourage the other to calm down. » Everyone sits down again. The message got through. This simple movement is helpful in calming a person who is going through a psychotic crisis. This is one of the tools with which participants will leave their mental health first aid (MHFA) training. That day, the session is led by psychoanalyst Séverine Fix-Lemaire, herself trained by PSSM France.

Since its founding in 2018, the association has developed modules accessible to all in order to help people with psychological or psychological disorders. A teenage son who isolates himself, a friend from the football club who repeatedly misses training, a bridge playing partner who withdraws more and more… So many daily situations to deal with which the trained people will now have at their disposal. tools. “The first aiders play an interface role. The objective remains to redirect towards professionals,” specifies Séverine.

In France, one in five people suffer from a mental disorder

On her laptop, Joanna writes the projected information on the board. “What we learn is essential because we all know someone who is suffering,” emphasizes this 35-year-old business manager. I plan to raise awareness among my employees about mental health issues. » Because there is an emergency. In France, one in five people suffer from a mental disorder.

While young people seem particularly concerned, only 17% of 11-15 year olds with a depressive disorder have spoken to a professional about it. PSSM has therefore developed a Youth module and is developing one for seniors. “Many elderly people suffer from isolation or depression. We don’t talk about it enough,” says Audrey Maillet, educational and scientific manager at PSSM.

These training courses are experiencing rapid growth in France and benefit from political support. The Mental Health and Psychiatry Conference is thus encouraging their deployment, with a target of 150,000 first aiders in 2025, compared to 114,000 to date.

On the program this afternoon at the Victoire-Tinayre center, in Paris 13th arrondissement: projection of videos describing pathologies; texts read involving a colleague who, after his divorce, increased his alcohol consumption; sifting through stereotypes about mental health. In a climate where everyone listens attentively, the exchange is woven from the reflections of the participants, punctuated by definitions and advice given by Séverine, always very clear.

In one of the films viewed, three people talk about their psychotic disorders on camera. “During a crisis, I feel like I'm on fire. I live another reality, testifies one of them. When this happens, you have to call to put out the fire. » When the video is finished, a silence settles in the room, gradually broken by everyone's remarks. “That these people say they continue to live normally, that touches me and takes away the fantasy side of the disorder,” says Éloïse. They are human and nothing dangerous. » Séverine adds: “Indeed, it’s not about crazy people. It is important to distinguish the person from their disorder. »

A citizen act

Among the tools to pass on: the Ventilate method. In unison, part of the room recites the letters when Séverine questions them about the attitude to adopt when faced with the isolation of a loved one: ““A” for approaching, evaluating and assisting; “é” to listen actively and without judgment; “r” to comfort and inform; “e” to encourage going to professionals; “r” to provide information on available resources. »

An action plan that Florence, a 59-year-old teacher, will soon be able to implement: “My 22-year-old son sometimes drinks excessively. He has already behaved aggressively towards his sister. It is difficult to discuss these subjects with your children. There, I will have the tools to act. » If, like many others, he comes out of the training “upset”, Aubin, a sports instructor, says he is convinced of its usefulness: “It is a civic act. We learn human gestures that are often forgotten: caring about others, taking the time to listen… Everyone should follow these two days! »

Recipes for success in mental health first aid training

  • Classes for everyone. All adult citizens can attend training for a price set by the trainers. The recommended amount is 250 euros.
  • Well-established tools. The modules have proven their reliability, with today 6 million first aiders trained in more than 30 countries.
  • Practical advice. Rescuers receive keys to understanding and concrete advice. This allows them to intervene before a situation worsens or repeats itself.

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