My journey to becoming a Mental Health First Aider – October 2021

Here’s my story as to why I become an accredited Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) Instructor.

As a physical first aider, I was comfortable with applying a plaster or washing out an eye. In 2006 I was in a newly appointed position of managing a team. Within my first week, an employee mentioned that she has a diagnosis of bipolar. I replied by saying “thanks for letting me know”. Yes, that was my response. That was it! Upon reflection, that response makes me feel sad. If she’d mentioned a hip problem I would have asked her what her limitations were and how to assist her in her role. Mental Health shouldn’t be viewed any differently from our physical health. Many signs and symptoms of mental ill-health affect the body, such as increased heart rate, sweating, trembling and changes to our breathing. I wish I had the option in 2006 to become a Mental Health First Aider as I could have supported and cared for my team members better. Fast forward some years and I find myself in a fortunate position to train as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. I was working on our internal Mental Health and Wellbeing strategy, I wanted to introduce Mental Health First Aiders to the workplace to empower others, increase confidence, and improve knowledge to offer support and guidance to others. There are so many benefits of becoming a Mental Health First Aider; being equipped with tools and skills to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health issues, effectively supporting anyone experiencing mental distress, improving listening skills, learning how to defer own judgement, provide information and help guide people towards seeking professional as well as understanding own boundaries and look after our own wellbeing. Being a Mental Health First Aider isn’t for everyone, however, there are a few other programmes that can be considered to increase mental health awareness and help break down the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental ill health:
  • Mental Health Awareness training will help others to understand what mental health is, the common signs and symptoms, how to challenge stigma and look after their own wellbeing.
  • Becoming a Mental Health Champion to raise awareness of mental health and challenge stigma and improve workplace wellbeing.
Together, I believe we can make a great difference.

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