Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid training has been offered across the country for over 10 years. Over this time thousands of people have been trained and some have found the course so valuable that they have gone on to become Mental Health First Aid Trainers themselves.
Nicola from the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association qualified as a trainer in the summer following a NUS coordinated Scottish Mental Health First Aid Train the Trainer event.
The level of interest and uptake has been phenomenal, with 294 students signing up for the course. Due to demand this semester alone 10 SMHFA courses will be run for students, with more courses in the pipeline for the summer for postgraduates and courses for university staff who have made contact about the course too.
Having students trained in mental health first aid benefits the whole university community, it means students can recognise when their peers are experiencing distress or are in crisis and can be supportive and help them find appropriate professional help or develop self-help strategies. It also helps tackle stigma and discrimination by increasing peoples understanding of mental health and illness.
“The response to the course has been overwhelming but it is brilliant that so many people want to be actively involved in creating a more supportive society. It is so good to see why different people are interested in becoming a Scottish Mental Health First Aider too; some have joined because it relates to their course or career aspirations, others due to events in their own lives or because of issues friends or family have had whilst for other people they are just want to know more about how to support other people who are in distress.”
Think it helps?
“SMHFA gives people the tools and confidence to deal with people who are in distress and need support. In my mind it is no different from learning CPR, by learning how to listen to someone, talk openly about suicide, help others explore their feelings and help them find the right kind of support for the future without doubt saves lives.”
“Knowing that by the summer there will be 160 new Scottish Mental Health First Aiders out there just from my courses, taking these skills to their hometowns or to new jobs after graduation, cities around the UK or countries further afield really makes it hit home that by providing this training whilst people are in education provides not only benefit to their peers but to people they haven’t even met yet and that can only be a good thing.”
Does your university or college offer Mental Health First Aid Training? Are there any staff or students who have been trained and do you know that you can go to them if you ever need help with your own or someone else’s mental health?
Think Positive can help institutions work towards increasing the numbers of staff and students trained in Mental Health First Aid through coordinating and or delivering the training. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soon we will be offering branded stickers for universities and colleges to proudly display letting staff and students know that mental health is a priority there and support is available.
SMHFA Training is offered by Think Positive in tandem with the support of setting up Student Mental Health Agreements.