At Community Learn, we’ve been working closely with workplace representatives and management over recent months to deliver Mental Health Awareness Training.
Back in 2017, our biennial conference community selected mental health as our priority campaign. Four years later, we are still committed to supporting our members with the training they need to be aware of mental health conditions and how best to support their colleagues, family and friends.
Reps in workplaces raised the need for further training due to the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, which have caused increased stress uncertainty and anxiety for many of our members.
In England we delivered Mental Health Training for Tata Reps and Management, working closely with reps, members and employers to deliver training to meet this growing need.
Mental Health First Aid is a widely recognised accredited 2-day course with individuals learning to recognise when a person might need help and how to approach them.
Tata Corby Community Branch Secretary Dougie Fairbairn said:
“This training was delivered to a high standard and the reps and members enjoyed the training and found it very insightful. I will continue to work with both management and the union to ensure further training is delivered to support our members”.
Lead HR Advisor for Tata Steel, Leanne McMullen said:
“The training was delivered brilliantly and very well received by the attendees with a number of employees volunteering to be Mental Health Champions. It was a good opportunity to work collaboratively with our union and we are now looking into how best we can support our Mental Health Champions going forward”.
In Wales, Mental Health First Aid was first set up in Tata Port Talbot 2018 by Mark Davies, the Community Branch Secretary who coordinates all the TU Safety Rep Training (SHEF Courses) on behalf of the Multi-Unions for Strip Products mostly in South Wales. Mark could see the value of safety reps having more information and knowledge in mental health to help other members.
This also created the possibility to combine roles and training for Reps who want to upskill themselves in more than one discipline like equalities or health and safety, allowing Reps to be used more efficiently as not all roles are covered in every branch.
Once courses started to run regularly, reps from Tata Trostre and Llanwern soon participated in training as well, creating a network of mental health first aiders in Wales. This has given reps the confidence to have open conversations with members and ensure they are supported as much as possible.
Community Learning Organiser Lisa Francis said:
“We have trained hundreds of people in Mental Health First Aid giving them the skills and knowhow to support and signpost individuals who are having mental health problems.
Raising awareness of mental health is not only a passion of mine but also the reps onsite, especially with such a high percentage of work absenteeism being connected to Mental Health issues. It is always high on the learning agenda for our ULR forum and together I think we have achieved something that we should be proud of, and we will continue to train as many employees as we possibly can.”
In Scotland, as well as the online resources, additional funding for mental health training is available through the Scottish Union Learning Project. This has allowed us to train most Community Reps in Scotland as Mental Health First Aiders. As soon as restrictions permit, we will be offering this accredited course again to our Reps and members in Scotland.
The funding also allows us to deliver bespoke mental health training tailored to our members and their experiences and the sector they work in. One such example of this was the online course delivered during lockdown last year to learners who work in the justice and custodial sector.
This is a challenging sector to work in and our members have spoken to us about the need for more support on mental health – on how can they support others who are experiencing poor mental health but also how they can try to maintain good mental health for themselves.
Responding to this, Community delivered an online workshop for over sixty learners who work in this sector. Our members learned about what mental health is and why it matters, the impact it can have on people’s lives, how to identify signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression as well as the support available, self-care and recovery.
Steve Farrell, Regional Secretary for Scotland and NI said:
“We are very proud of the work we do in Scotland with regards to mental health. The ongoing pandemic and the additional stresses that has brought to everyone has meant that the demand for this type of learning is not going anywhere. Community has secured further funding from Scottish Union Learning for the next two years, that will allow us to continue to deliver this very important training to our members.”
If you think this is something we could deliver in your workplace, or would like more information get in touch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Community also have further Mental Health courses available through our online training partner, Skills Academy. These courses are free for members and are CPD accredited. Click here to register.