Mental Health First Aid

If you have identified that a person on your course/retreat is struggling with mental health problems it is important that you create a calm atmosphere around them, perhaps by going with them to a quiet area in your venue, really listening to them, and being compassionate and supportive. It is important that you make suitable arrangements for them to go home safely and encourage them to seek medical advice. It would also be important to tell relatives and/or friends what seems to have happened to this person on the retreat/course.

Below is some more general advice for a person who feels they have developed mental health problems.

What to do in an emergency

1.     If you are experiencing mental health problems and need emergency treatment consider

What’s happening right now?

  •     I’m having disordered thoughts and/or confused actions.
  •     I’m thinking about harming myself or someone else.
  •     I’ve done something to hurt myself.
  •     I’m feeling really upset about something.

If so, seek urgent help . . .

  • From a trusted friend or relative.

And / or

  • Contact your General Practitioner (GP) in the first instance. He or she can usually deal with a mental health problem more quickly and fully than an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.


  • Call 999. Tell them that you or the person you are looking after is experiencing a mental health crisis.


  • Call NHS Direct – open 24 hours, 7 days a week
    England and Scotland – dial 111
    Wales – 0845 606 4647


  • A mental health support service. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week unless otherwise stated:
    Samaritans – Freephone 116 123 or 08457 90 90 90
    Saneline – 0300 304 7000 – open 6pm – 11pm Lifeline(Northern Ireland) – 0808 808 8000 – (Textphone :18001 0808 808 8000)


  • Go to your nearest Hospital A&E Department.

Support may vary depending which part of the UK you live in.


2.     If you live outside the UK

The same advice applies – contact your doctor/physician first if possible or find out what mental health support organisations exist in your country. Make a crisis plan.

3.     Make a crisis plan

If you feel vulnerable, create a CRISIS PLAN –

  • Talk to the people closest to you. Tell them that you may need help and ask if it is okay to contact them if things get worse. Show them this webpage to give them some ideas about how they can help you.
  • Create a card that you can carry with you listing people that can help you in a crisis. Include contact details of your doctor and mental health support services. The internet is a great place to find this information quickly and easily.
  •  For more suggestions see the Mind website – Google “Mind Crisis Plan”.

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