23/06/2021 - Becoming a Mental Health First Aider | Website Blog | Purple Creative Studio
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Becoming a Mental Health First Aider

As published by MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England we all have mental health, and we should be mindful of taking care of this as we do for our physical health. With the Covid-19 Pandemic affecting the whole world our habits and routines have been flung into disarray.  Our daily lives have changed and for many, working from home has begun to feel like the norm – but is it?  Cocooned in our own bubbles many of us have had to deal with situations which we would have eagerly shared with others, whether family, friends or work colleagues. Decisions have been made in isolation and we have all, in some form or another learnt coping mechanisms to stave off those negative and harmful thoughts and feelings that all seem very real.

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation" - Audre Lorde, civil rights activist and poet.

Mental Health First Aid Training for me was an important step I wanted to take in order to gain the tools to promote positive wellbeing and share the fact with my work colleagues that no one is on their own and help is always available. Neil Sheehan, Director of ALFA Consultancy Ltd kindly invited me to join his next training course so, I am therefore proud to announce that I have officially undertaken Mental Health First Aid Training and can now be considered a certified Mental Health First Aider.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

In a nutshell - Mental Health First Aiders are not trained to be therapists or psychiatrists but they are given the skills to have the confidence to offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance. Using the acronym ALGEE – which became our mantra over the course of the training we would be more prepared to help our family, friends and colleagues.

Approach the person, assess and assist with any crisis

Listen and communicate non-judgementally

Give support and information

Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help

Encourage other support

What is the Online Mental Health First Aid Course?

The Online Mental Health Fist Aid course is a practical skills and awareness course designed to equip learners with the skills and confidence to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues, and provide support and signposting to self-help, or professional services. The new online version of this course delivers the same evidence-based learning outcomes of the popular ‘face-to-face’ Adult MHFA Two Day course in an accessible and flexible online format. The course is structured around a blend of individual learning and live sessions. These are all conducted online via a Learning Hub – an integrated learning platform. Learners who complete the course will be certified as Mental Health First Aiders. (MHFA-England). Extract taken from the MHFA Handbook.

My Experience of The Course

Having undergone 2 days of training, split over 4 sessions I decided to share my experience of the MHFA Course and what I took away from the training.  So, where to start …

Armed with a very thick manual, accompanying workbook and access to the online portal I began the suggested activities as a precursor to the course and the style of training I could expect – I wasn’t disappointed.  Concise information, engaging videos and quizzes had me hooked and wanting to learn more… 

Day One and a very positive start.  A great mix of people from varying backgrounds and industries all willing to discuss and share their knowledge and experiences ensured the session was interesting and fun.  Use of technology greatly assisted what could have been a ‘heavy’ and emotive subject.  Breakout Rooms, Chat Pads and White Boards enabled us to actively engage in the learning experience. Homework was set for us to enjoy and feed back to the group at the next session, on our ‘Happy Hour’ - one hour spent doing something fun!  Can’t wait to hear everyone’s ME TIME.

Day Two and everyone keen to crack on with the day.  Happy Hours/Time for Me were shared and it confirmed what we all thought that this pandemic has shown us that it is the little things that mean the most – time with family and friends. The topics covered were very emotive but presented in such a way by the empathetic tutor allowing us all to be heard and listened to.  Felt very ‘moved’ by the information shared but more confident in being able to utilise these skills in my daily life.

Day Three and I knew from the previous nights reading that this was going to be a roller coaster of emotions; touching on subjects that I had experienced via family and friends.  As always, we were made to feel very safe and comfortable throughout the whole session both by our fellow attendees and the two course leaders.  Being able to discuss topics close to my heart with ‘strangers’ over Zoom made me open up and share in a way that perhaps I wouldn’t have done if this had been a classroom scenario.

Day Four and the final session and the opportunity to consolidate all our learning by working through a range of case studies and using the recommended ALGEE acronym to ensure we offered the ‘best’ support we could.

What’s Next?

I feel that in just 4 days I have covered a vast amount of information relating to Mental Health and feel very much more confident in being able to perhaps help and support anyone who is experiencing such terribly dark times.  I also feel very strongly that every workplace should invest in their workforce and enable others to take on this training – you never know how this may help the business too!

And on a final note we should remember to always …

Look after ourselves and enjoy a ‘Happy Hour’ every day!

MHFA Certificate

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