Charlotte Edwards attended a Mental Health First Aid course held at Tata Port Talbot in January 2020. The course was organised by Lisa Francis, Learning Organiser and was funded through the Welsh Union Learning Fund.
I’ve had several encounters with mental illness and mental health issues with my family and friends over the years so it’s something that is really close to my heart, however if I’m honest I never felt confident in handling these situations. I tended to overthink things and worry about saying the wrong thing. Similarly, as a manager, I really care about the wellbeing of my team but I felt worried that if a member of my team, or any member of the workforce for that matter, asked me for help I might not know the best course of action. So when the opportunity to do the Mental Health First Aid Training arose, it was a no brainer for me to enrol.
What is a Mental Health First Aider? Well, in the same way that if you go on a First Aid course you can’t rock up to the local GP surgery and start seeing patients, the Mental Health First Aid training hasn’t made me a professional councillor. However, I do now have a better understanding of how to help someone in need, whether that is in spotting signs of a crisis, or being able to point them in the direction of professional help, or just being there, as a non-judgemental sounding board, and its given me confidence that I don’t need to have all the answers, just offering support is powerful enough.
In the time since my training I’ve had experiences both in and out of work where I’ve been able to put my training to use, and I feel fortunate that I’d had the training as I was able to actively respond to the situations head on rather than dithering over what to say and what to do, and whether those actions would help or hinder, and in both instances it felt like the actions taken helped the individual.
In terms of the Mental Health First Aid training, the trainer was excellent. She openly discussed her own experiences of mental health as well as those of helping others. Some of the content was difficult and the overall experience was quite emotional, but it was really worthwhile and really helped break down some of the taboos and barriers that we often encounter with this subject matter. Some of the statistics we discussed were quite shocking, but that only supports the importance of making Mental Health more widely understood. So, if you like the sound of becoming a Mental Health First Aider please contact Community Learn because Mental Health is probably the most important health issue in the work place today. And it’s an issue that is not going away so the importance of having a strong network of Mental Health First Aiders really cannot be overstated.
Speaking about the cohort I attended, not only were they an approachable and friendly bunch of people, but they were in the same place as me; wanting to help but needing some guidance and tools on how best to do this. As a result of the training, I feel like we now have the beginnings of a diverse network of Mental Health First Aiders; from a range of works areas, from different functions and different levels of the business, all united by our desire to make a difference; so if you’re in need please get in touch.”
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