Chris Van Es

Saúde mental para todos

MELBOURNE - Numa noite de Primavera, em 1997, quando eu era investigador de saúde mental na Universidade Nacional Australiana, em Camberra, estava a debater com a minha esposa, Betty Kitchener, uma enfermeira que leccionou cursos de primeiros socorros para a Cruz Vermelha nos seus tempos livres, a questão da insuficiência da formação convencional de primeiros socorros. Esses cursos normalmente negligenciam as emergências de saúde mental, fornecendo poucas ferramentas aos participantes para ajudarem as pessoas que combatem pensamentos suicidas, ataques de pânico, stress pós-traumático, efeitos do abuso de álcool ou de drogas ou uma diminuição do contacto com a realidade.

A Betty sabia em primeira mão quais eram as potenciais consequências desta falta de conhecimento. Quando ela tinha 15 anos, sofreu um episódio de depressão grave que culminou numa tentativa de suicídio. Mas a sua família e os seus professores não souberam identificar o problema e, por isso, não recebeu nenhum apoio ou ajuda profissional. Esta falta de tratamento inicial debilitou a sua recuperação e ela continuou a deparar-se com episódios de depressão ao longo da sua vida.

A fim de ajudar a garantir que mais pessoas não teriam de sofrer sozinhas, como a Betty sofreu, resolvemos criar um curso de formação de primeiros socorros de saúde mental na nossa comunidade local. Três anos depois, quando a Betty reduziu a carga horária do seu emprego remunerado, a fim de desenvolver a formação em Primeiros Socorros de Saúde Mental, pudemos finalmente iniciar o curso.

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