Why should fitness professionals know Mental Health First Aid?

Every two years you renew your CPR certification, right? So, why don’t we do the same for mental health education?

Do you know the signs your client may be struggling? Would you know what to say if you were concerned about their mental health? Or where to refer out to if they needed professional help?

Many people in the United States experience mental health challenges, 1 in 5 actually. When people are looking to improve their mental wellbeing, often they’ll turn to working out to help manage stress and boost their mood.

This places us, as fitness professionals, in a prime position to be an advocate for mental wellness, model self-help strategies, and connect our clients with mental health professionals if needed.

Here are all the reasons you need (and maybe more!) to become a Mental Health First Aider:

You want to help but don’t know what to say…

The important thing is that you care and this will come across to your students and clients.  Mental Health First Aid teaches you how body language and non-judgmental listening can make a powerful impact.  With an informed view of mental health challenges, a look at cultural considerations, and a holistic perspective to care, you can help others and empower them to help themselves.  You’ll also get some guidance on what is helpful to say and some insight on what it not-so-helpful, so you feel confident discussing mental health.

You’re already helping people with their physical health, with Mental Health First Aid you can support their mental health too.

As leaders in fitness, you are skilled in helping people improve their physical health. You are also at times the very first line of support people have when they’re struggling. Your clients come to you looking to let off steam or decompress after a long day at work. One of my early-riser clients shared that they HAVE to work out early in the morning to “get their mind in the best place” before heading in to work. 

While physical activity is a great preventative measure, some of your clients are likely already struggling with their mental health. Mental Health First Aid does not make us counselors or therapists, suddenly able to help our clients overcome all of their struggles, but it does prepare us with the knowledge of what to say when we’re concerned.

Everyone is talking about mental health. You can inspire hope and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that we are shifting the norm and talking more about mental health. But how many of these conversations are highlighting hope and that recovery is possible? Mental Health First Aid training makes sure these conversations include discussion of the many available avenues for support and the many resources out there. Help is available. There are so many people who make a career out of helping people through mental health challenges but sometimes it takes someone to “reach in” rather than waiting for an individual in need to reach out for help. 

Are you the type to always go above and beyond for your clients?

Ready to become a Mental Health First Aider? Click below to see our training schedule. If you have questions you can email Shelly at mindfulfitpro@gmail.com or visit our Mental Health First Aid page for more information.

joyful diverse trainee and fitness instructor clapping hands in gym
Photo by Julia Larson on Pexels.com

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