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Do you practice emotional first-aid?

Washington state recently implemented a new law requiring that all providers take a suicide prevention training course. Apparently some doctors were not happy with this new requirement…especially anesthesiologists. And sure enough, while I was taking the course, I noticed the anesthesiologists in the class doing crossword puzzles. I completely understand that in their field, they will not have the chance to use the suicide screening tools with their patients but as a member of society, as a human being in a community, I would still think this is very valuable info. So much so, a version of it should be taught in high schools as part of health class; learning how to deal with psychic/emotional pain and supporting others around you who are suffering from it are tools we should all be learning from a young age. The week I took that course I coincidentally heard a brief audio clip of Guy Winch which lead me to read the transcript of his TED talk. He makes such a great case for practicing “emotional first-aid” and how it actually takes practice to manage our emotional distress: “Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment.” How many of us mull/obsess over and re-live things from our past and worry about the future? How many of us can’t stop our racing minds? It takes practice to not live with that sort of stress/anxiety and obsessive thinking. The Virtual Hope Box is a nice little app I learned about from the suicide training workshop. We should be teaching our kids tools like this to build up their emotional resilience and keep them from needing anti-depressants/anxiety meds, alcohol or drugs to cope with emotional pain when they get older. Imagine if we approached emotional injuries as attentively and urgently as the way we do physical ones…it would drastically improve our overall health and the communities we live in, don’t you think?