Watch for changed behaviour, be empathic, know your limits: how to be a mental health first aider

It can be hard to spot the signs of mental ill-health in friends and colleagues, and harder still to raise the subject with them. This expert advice might make it easier

You may have a fairly good idea of what to do if someone breaks an arm, or even stops breathing, but could you spot the signs of poor mental health in a friend, relation or colleague? Mental health first aid is an idea that is taking hold, at a time when record numbers of people have been seeking help for mental health conditions. It’s not as straightforward as treating, for instance, a cut or a burn. Signs of depression and anxiety can be tricky to spot, says Stuart Payne, a mental health first aid trainer for St John Ambulance, which runs courses in workplaces. It can show up differently for everyone and “there’s no hard and fast rule on mental health”, he says. But there are common signs and symptoms that could indicate an issue. Here are some things to be aware of.

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