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Mental Health First Aid (Wales)

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What’s it for?

A 12 Hour training course that improves mental health literacy and helps people to recognise the signs and symptoms of someone with mental health problems; to respond to various mental health crises, engage with, support and signpost people to appropriate professional help.

Who’s it for?

MHFA (Wales) is for everybody and is particularly relevant for those who are likely to come into contact with those at risk of experiencing mental distress such as police, community workers, employers, managers, especially frontline staff in local authorities and housing, further education staff, NHS staff, employment agency staff, prison and custody staff, Jobcentre Plus staff and family members.

Wales’s Mental Health First Aid MHFA (Wales)

MHFA (Wales) both saves lives and improves lives. The training course is based on work pioneered in Australia and, after an encouraging Scottish pilot in 2004, the course has been adapted for Wales and it is now being rolled out across the country.

Course programme

The 12 Hour course covers a number of topics including:
• What is meant by mental health/mental ill health
• The signs and symptoms of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, and psychosis
• The range of effective interventions and treatments
• How to access help and support.

Course aims

Mental Health First Aid (Wales) aims to help participants:
• Preserve life where a person may be a danger to themselves or others
• Provide help to prevent a mental health problem developing into a more serious state
• Promote recovery of good mental health
• Provide comfort to a person experiencing mental distress.

Why Train in Mental Health First Aid?

There are many reasons why people might want to train in Mental Health First Aid MHFA (Wales):
• Mental health problems are common, especially depression, anxiety and misuse of alcohol and other drugs. One person in four will experience some form of problem with their mental health in the course of a year.
• There is a stigma associated with mental health problems. This may hinder people from seeking help. People are often ashamed to discuss mental health problems with family, friends and work colleagues. They may also be reluctant to seek help and support for such problems because of their concerns about what others will think of them.
• Many people are not well informed. Understanding how to recognise mental health problems and what effective treatments are available is not widespread. With greater community awareness, people will be able to recognise their own and others’ problems and feel more comfortable about seeking assistance.
• Help is not always on hand. GPs, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists can all assist people with mental health problems. However, just as with accidents and medical emergencies, such assistance is not always available when a problem first arises. This is when members of the public can offer immediate aid and support the person to get appropriate help.
• People may lack the insight to realise they need help or that help is available. Some mental health problems cloud clear thinking and good decision-making. A person experiencing such problems may not realise that they need help or that effective help is available for them or be in such a state of distress and not be able to think clearly about what they should do. Members of the general public often do not know how to respond. In a mental health crisis situation, the helper’s actions may determine how quickly the person with the problem gets help and/or recovers. In MHFA (Wales), they learn an approach to help to be calm and confident and to respond in an appropriate way to give the best help.

MHFA Instructors

The course can only be delivered by a specially selected, trained and approved person. This ensures that all MHFA (Wales) Instructors have a certain level of knowledge, skills and experience, that there is consistency in delivery across Wales and that the quality of the delivery of the course can be monitored.

“I was very impressed by the idea, content and potential outcomes of the course. I believe that the idea and content smashes right through the barrier of people not being sure what to say or do when confronting distress and gives them skills, knowledge and information to do something to help.” Instructor (Scotland)

MHFA (Wales) is funded by the Welsh Assembly as part of Wales’ work on mental health improvement. Mental Health First Aid was developed in Australia. Comparisons can be drawn in the response to the need for Emergency First Aid and Mental Health First Aid when in both cases members of the public can offer immediate aid and support the person to get appropriate help. It is a 12-hour, evidence-based course with the aim of improving the general public’s awareness and understanding of mental health. The course has been adapted to better suit the needs of people in Wales and is now being delivered as Mental Health First Aid MHFA (Wales). The course does not train you to be a therapist, counsellor or mental health professional.

The course will teach you to:

• Give initial help to someone experiencing a mental health problem
• Deal with a crisis situation or the first signs of someone developing mental ill health
• Guide people towards appropriate help.

The course delivery is very flexible and may be delivered over 2 full days or spread out over a maximum of 4 sessions over 4 days. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance and a copy of the MHFA (Wales) Manual, which covers the course content. Instructors are also available to deliver the course in Welsh.

A recent formal evaluation reported:

• The majority of participants felt that the learning they had gained from participating in the training would be useful to them in both their work and personal life.
• Substantial increases in participants’ knowledge and awareness of mental health issues, including their ability to recognise if someone was experiencing a mental health problem.
• Participants reported increased confidence that they would be able to recognise if someone is experiencing a mental health problem and to advise them about how to seek appropriate help.
• There was a considerable increase in the proportion of participants who said they would be prepared to help someone they thought was experiencing a mental health problem.