What happens on a Mental Health First Aid course?

There seems to be so much stigma and discrimination around anything to do with mental health issues that sometimes even mentioning a training course related to it get’s overlooked. We need to remember this course is about first aid for mental health issues. It’s got nothing to do with diagnosis nor counseling or therapy.

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These pictures aren’t great quality but they do show a Mental Health First Aid standard course in progress – it is like any other training course you may attend.

The course is much like any other good training course and is specifically designed to enable everyone to benefit including different learning styles and different abilities. You do not need to be medically minded or have a prior knowledge of psychology. Everyone who attends whether experienced or not benefits from the course material itself and from the knowledge of other members of the group. Together we take your knowledge to a new level. There are slides with pertinent and relevant information and techno-graphics, film clips where people share their lived experience, group work, discussions and case studies to consider. We contribute together to such topics as “What is mental health” and “Do you think people with schizophrenia are dangerous?” Even people with diagnosed mental health issues have benefitted by expanding their knowledge of their own and other conditions. There are a workbook and a 108-page manual full of information and resources. We also have a 33-page line managers resource book.

It is important to us the Trainer that our Trainees feel safe and maximise their learning experience. Mental health can be such an uncomfortable topic for some people, for example, due to personal experience (own, families, friends and/or colleagues) that just occasionally breathing space is needed. Breathing space is given, you may step outside for a bit. But rest assured the trainer will follow you and check you are okay.  Our groups are from 8 to 16 people. Any less and the group dynamic is affected and any more dilutes the quality of the training. I am always amazed at the knowledge our Trainees have about mental health that they did not previously realize. Together we create few ground rules for the course too – like what’s said in the group stays in the group and there is no such thing as a daft question, etc. Active participation is encouraged.

The course is divided into 4 sections. In the first, we discuss what mental health is and isn’t, the impact of mental health issues, the 5 steps of mental health first aid and start looking at depression (the disorder most well known and probably the one having the greatest impact). In section 2 we look at suicide and spend more time on depression. In section 3 we cover the huge topic of stress and anxiety including phobias, panic disorder, self-harm, eating disorders, and the impact of drugs and alcohol on anxiety. In section 4 we explore the psychoses – bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In each section, we revise the 5 steps of mental health first aid and apply them to the disorders being discussed so that at the end of the 2 days each trainee is comfortable in using the process.

Want to know more? Want to join a course? Let me know via the contact page.






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