When we see someone experiencing a medical emergency we know first aid can be a life-saving measure, but what if we saw someone experiencing a mental health emergency such as depression or suicidal behaviour? In a recent poll, 98% of Canadians said they felt it was important to know how to help someone experiencing mental health distress, but the majority of said they would not feel comfortable providing assistance.

The Canadian Red Cross wants to change that.

Thanks to the generous support of Bell Canada, we are developing two new first aid programs that focus on mental health – mental health training for first responders and the mental health and first aid program.

Mental health support and first aid after emergencies and disasters will train first responders to provide mental health support following emergencies. Disasters and emergencies can take a huge toll on the mental health of those affected. Psychological support following a disaster or emergency can really help people manage the impact the event has. This program will mean that those affected by emergencies are having more than just their physical needs addressed, they will also be supported through the trauma these events can cause.


The mental health and first aid program will aim to empower Canadians with the skills they need to help someone experiencing a mental health emergency. Just like basic first aid provides the skills needed to help in a medical emergency until help arrives, this program will train participants to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health distress, and how to help until the crisis is resolved or help arrives.

We want to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health and part of that can be done through integrating mental health into first aid.

Announcing integrating mental health into first aid
Mental health support and first aid after emergencies and disasters will train first responders to provide mental health support following emergencies
Helping to end stigma and silence
We want to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health and part of that can be done through integrating mental health into first aid.
Empower Canadians with the skills they need
Just like basic first aid teaches us how to help in a medical emergency, this program will teach Canadians what to do when someone is experiencing mental health distress.


Take our poll - what is your experience with mental health and first aid emergencies?

January 27, 2015 is #BellLetsTalk day, which aims to break down the silence and stigma surrounding mental illnesses in Canada.