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Table 2 Stories of providing first aid that involve the intimate network

From: Experiences in applying skills learned in a mental health first aid training course: a qualitative study of participants' stories

Story 1
The situation: [I was] living with a girl with manic depression.
What you did: I recommended some professional help
Effects on that person: She is now on medication and getting on well with work (etc) again.
How relations changed: We no longer live together, she has moved away from where her problems essentially evolved. I now see her in a different light: she was once a fun-loving person, now she rarely leaves home.
Longer term effects on the person: She says now that she is much happier than before.
How the course has changed you: With the MHFA course and my social science degree, I understand the way people act and behave and why they do so.
Anything else: It gave me a basic understanding and some valuable, simple information to help me get hold of the concepts of mental health.
Story 2
The situation: My daughter was suffering from drugs and stress and had a psychotic episode.
What you did: I went to counselling with her and to see the psychiatrist with her. In the end she wanted to be on her own with nothing to do with my husband or me and we "backed off". I did keep in contact via fax: it was one sided but made it easier to keep the dialogue alive.
Effects on that person: My daughter made contact again of her own accord and I believe it was because I never broke contact with her.
How relations changed: I don't think we will ever have the same close relationship as before but we do talk on the phone and see each other at least once a month. I have tried and continue to try not to be too protective, which is what she felt I was.
Longer term effects on the person: I think my daughter has realised that we love her, she is no longer on drugs and I believe that she no longer has the stress she had before.
How the course has changed you: Doing the MHFA made me realise that we were not alone and that there were lots of other people in the same boat. So I did not feel so guilty and it helped my husband and me as well as my daughter knowing we were going to the course.
Anything else: I think it is, no, I know it is an excellent course that has helped so many people and I hope MHFA course will always continue.
Story 3
The situation: [The man concerned was experiencing] severe depression and anxiety due to marriage/family break-up and child custody problems.
What you did: I persuaded him to seek counselling. I tried to listen and advise and I also gave essential financial assistance.
Effects on that person: He did seek counselling and also presented at a mental health unit as an in-patient for a few days but has since discontinued regular counselling.
How relations changed: I now have a little more understanding but I feel there is still an underlying serious problem and I find it difficult to know how to best handle potentially explosive situations.
Longer term effects on the person: There was a temporary effect for the good. He may also be more willing to seek help in the future if needed now he has experienced what the mental health unit can offer.
How the course has changed you: I am somewhat more understanding and make more allowance for irrational behaviour, etc, but it is still not always easy.
Anything else: I am very pleased I did the course and it has made me aware not only of the problems people have due to mental health, but of the help that is available if only the person will seek it.