A resident doctor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine wants people to realize first aid training can go beyond bandages and CPR.

Dr. Baij Mukhopadhyay said there's also a place for mental health first aid. Mukhopadhyay was part of a team that developed a mental health first aid program for Sachigo Lake First Nation, and feels people should be trained to respond to suicide threats and other mental health crises in more communities.


Dr. Baij Mukhopadhyay has helped create a first aid curriculum that will teach first-responders in remote communities how to intervene in a mental health crisis. (Nicole Ireland/CBC )

"Especially, you know, communities that are facing a lot of the brunt of mental health crisis in the country today," he said, noting the training can help people "begin to feel that they have [options and] ... they don't feel helpless."

Mukhopadhyay was to give a presentation Thursday about his work in Sachigo at the School of Medicine's Rendez Vous 2012 conference in Thunder Bay.

His work at Sachigo Lake involved designing a first aid curriculum that would address the unique challenges in a remote community that doesn’t have the paramedic teams or medical resources of a city.

He and the team of researchers from NOSM ended up going back a second time to focus on mental health first aid.

Sachigo Lake, ON

"The first time they just did first aid training that did not have a mental health component. They did the basics kind of like what to do when there's a bleed or a heart attack or … people lose consciousness," Mukhopadhyay said.

When they went back to do an evaluation, the community’s first-responders asked to learn how to intervene in a mental health crisis as well.

Mukhopadhyay said there is more work to be done to tweak the curriculum he's come up with, and he’s open to tailoring it to other northern communities.