Held in London 10th and 11th April 2017
Young Worker's Branch Officer, Elli Long reports during Mental Health Awareness Week on the 'First Aid' course she attended on behalf of the Branch, last month:
As I am writing this I am currently on my way back from London were I have spent the last 2 days attending a mental health first aid course.
I was really excited before this course as it’s something different and I thought it would be really interesting but as it got closer it got me nervous…’mental health first aider’ what does this actually mean? Will people really be relying on me to spot signs of mental health within the workplace?.. But I don’t know anything about mental health?
On the first morning a group of 15 of us gathered in the Unite building in a boardroom, were Jo Thair introduced us to the course leader who works at a charity called ‘Mind’.
She handed out thick manuals and explained what subjects we would be looking at over the 2 days. They included;
* Panic attacks
* Eating disorders
When I saw these I thought jeeezeee.. talk about and learn how to deal with someone who feels suicidal? How will I ever be able to do that?
The tutor told us to be honest and open and don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how silly they seem.
What I was struggling with was that I have never experienced any mental illness other than a period of panic attacks so how will I be able to understand what someone is going through and guide and help them?
Well, the tutor taught us we will never understand what someone else is going through and we shouldn’t pretend we do, you just need to make them aware you are with them all the way and can point them in the right direction for help and will be with them on the journey.
An important thing I learnt was how to approach someone who you believe may be showing symptoms of a mental health illness.
It’s important not to scare them but also to be honest and try and get them to have a chat with you on how they are feeling and open up, it’s good to ask open questions so then this way the person can answer how they like and will lead on to telling you more about how they are feeling. The steps you or these people take afterwards would depend on the severity of what they tell you.
The course really opened my eyes on mental health issues. It is so common and more needs to be done. I found the statistics really scary.. 1 in 4 people will get a mental health illness in their lifetime.
I am currently working on a PowerPoint presentation to put things I learnt together as I believe a lot more people especially in the workplace should be made more aware about mental health and how common it is.
I would like to thank the CWU and Jo Thair for organising such a fantastic course and giving a lot of young members the chance to go on a course like this.
Thank you to my branch CWU Greater Mersey Amal for sorting out my accommodation and travel and also thank you to Parcelforce for allowing me time off to attend this course.
You can now download Elli's Powerpoint presentation here