[caption id="attachment_3140" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] First cohort of Mental Health First Aiders.[/caption] Care for patients with mental illness in the Cayman Islands received a significant boost recently with the training of 60 professionals as Mental Health First Aiders.The training course, facilitated by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA), has equipped these professionals with the knowledge and confidence necessary to recognise those crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis by guiding an affected person to appropriate support.The two-day course qualifies persons as Mental Health First Aiders.[caption id="attachment_3141" align="alignleft" width="300"] Second cohort of Mental Health First Aiders.[/caption] Dr. Arline McGill of the HSAs Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Health explained, Our department, in collaboration with Major Ricardo Henry of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, has successfully held three training sessions since introducing the programme to the Cayman Islands in October 2017 during Mental Health Week. We hope that this programme will encourage people to talk more freely about mental health, reduce stigma and create a more positive culture within organisations and the community.Mental Health First Aider Laura Young said, We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. And similar to physical illness, mental illness can strike at any time and can affect people from all walks of life. This course has taught me so much, including how to tackle stigma in the world around me constructively. It has enabled me to have a more comprehensive understanding of mental health and offer better support to those experiencing mental illness.The ongoing training is open to anyone with an interest in mental and behavioral health wellbeing. There is a limit of 20 persons per course, because of the highly interactive and thoroughness of the programme.Through a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions, each session is built around a Mental Health First Aid action plan, enabling the participants to have confidence as they intervene in various situations.Persons who complete the course gets an MHFA manual to keep and refer to whenever they need it, and an internationally recognised certificate acknowledging them as a Mental Health First Aider.The training however does not qualify someone to be a therapy provider. Similar to learning physical first aid, it prepares persons to intervene in mental crises and guide the person experiencing the crisis to help, as well as support them during their recovery.For local training opportunities, please contact the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Health of the Health Services Authority (345) 244-2650.