A desire to have a positive impact motivated Harjyot to study medicine. In her first year of study, she heard about a Mental Health First Aid course and signed up with friends from university. She says the practical and informative course gave her the tools to support people with mental health problems.
“I learnt the basic skills of Mental Health First Aid and how to recognise if someone was in trouble,” she says. “I strongly believe it’s never too late to ask for help. From the Mental Health First Aid course, I gained confidence in asking questions and encouraging others to seek help.”
After completing the course, Harjyot and her friends have a greater understanding of the value of peer support and self-care. She says the training removed any remaining stigma about mental health problems and increased her self-awareness and empathy.
“It’s so common and could happen to anyone,” Harjyot says. “Knowing what to do in these situations can make all the difference. The course has taught me not only how to support others but myself, too. I know that if I’m feeling stressed it’s beneficial to take a break and look after myself.”
Gaining the confidence to reach out
Harjyot no longer feels helpless when someone close to her has a mental health problem.
She has taken the skills she has learnt and is able to apply them in her community, family and university.
“The best thing about the training is that I learnt how important it is to talk to someone you are worried about.”
JCU Medicine Student Harriyot Gill
“I used to think that if someone is suicidal or depressed, asking them about it would make them dwell on it more," she says. "Now I know that expressing my concerns can help them open up, start a conversation and seek help. This still resonates with me today and will for years to come.”
Mental Health First Aid Australia offers a range of courses, from a standard course through to specialised training for medical students and nursing students. Queensland Mental Health Week runs from 9-17 October with a variety of events on around the state. For more information and support, visit beyondblue and Lifeline.