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Mental Health First Aid... What's it all about?

Last week, I attended a Mental Health First Aid course organised by Mental Health First Aid England. I was eager to attend this course because I was curious to learn about what it would entail. I had undertaken a different first aid course before which increased my interest to enrol on to this mental health one, however, I was very unaware of what to expect from this course and felt a little apprehensive.

Very quickly, I realised that the subject of mental health had affected so many people in the room and not only was it a learning curve for those who attended but also an opportunity for many to share their own stories and to express what mental health means to them. Sadly, for so long mental health has been a hidden struggle.

Over the course of the two days, not only did I learn in detail about why people suffer; from what and how to detect and help someone seek help, I learnt that too many people are suffering alone. I’ve always tried to be as open as possible with mental health and tried as best I can to be understanding of those that suffer. There's a lot of stigma around mental health and it’s received a lot of negative press in the past.

The course taught me that having a mental health problem doesn't make you crazy, weak or unstable, it doesn't necessarily have to affect you your whole life or mean there’s no way back from it, it just means that for a period of time you are unwell. In the same way if you break your leg, or arm or have cancer, you're ill and need treatment. That’s the best way I can describe it.

What I found very interesting are the triggers that can cause people to live perfectly care-free lives for their whole childhood and then one day as an adult realise they suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. 

Within schools mental health is at the forefront of conversation. Young people’s mental health is being taken very seriously at the moment and for good reason; more needs to be done for children’s mental wellbeing. The increased pressure on pupils to perform can cause added stress and anxiety on children, it is important that schools instil in children that there is more to life than academic achievement. Many schools have already taken this on-board and look at extracurricular activities that children can channel their energy into and use to break away from academia.

Another issue that has been pinpointed is the impact technology is having on children. The constant access and exposure to the internet made available via the spread of Wi-Fi is making it difficult for children to switch off. What I learnt from the course, is that no matter if you are an adult or child, the personal impact mental health can have is huge. Therefore, it’s about getting the right help at the right time. What I hope is that the raised awareness of mental health will ensure everyone has the confidence to speak out knowing there is support on offer. 

Both Mind and Young Minds are fantastic charities that can be an excellent resource if you need support for yourself or someone you know. 

If you ever have the opportunity to go on a Mental Health First Aid Training Course I would strongly recommend you do so. If you have already been on one, we would love to know how you found the training.

Do you think schools are doing enough to support staff and pupils with mental health illnesses?

Positive mental health amongst teachers and support staff is vital in ensuring a happy school environment. In this blog a mental health expert shares her tips on how to improve the emotional health of school employees.

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