In my opinion every company should have a Mental Health First Aider. Companies have many physical first aiders who are trained, so why not give the same importance to Mental Health, so that they can understand it more? This will mean the stigma around mental health will be reduced.
Why I did the Course
As someone who lives with and manages depression daily, I thought of becoming a Mental Health First Aider. I wanted to gain more knowledge of other mental health conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks etc. I thought the knowledge could be used to help myself deal with my own challenges daily as well as to spot signs of when mental health is not good with family, friends and colleagues. I wanted to be able to not only spot signs but also to support and signpost to organisations for further help. I knew the course would give me a certificate as well. Having listened to stories of people with bipolar and anxiety issues, I knew that the course would help me to educate and inform others and at the same time change perceptions.
Putting things into Practice
Having completed the course I wanted to take away strategies that I could use both for myself and for others. I learnt about having a container that was so full of all the pressures and stresses of life that if it carried on filling it would overflow. I looked at my own life and why it was important for self-care. Being aware of my own triggers would help me deal with my own mental health better. I heard that just having 30 minutes a day to switch off and do something I love is key. I thought about reading a good book and meditation and built this into my routine.
Exercise really helps wellbeing as well, so I introduced what I call Wellbeing Walks. Every month I have an extended lunch with a colleague and we go to a different place to talk about our mental health. We discuss examples of when our mental health needs help and support. For example, a moment when feeling anxious and the outcome. I considered what I picked up from the course to put into action.
I am planning on extending these Wellbeing Walks as I think they could be so good and benefit many people. Nature and outdoors can make a huge difference to our wellbeing. As well as changing perceptions and stopping stigma I also promote positive wellbeing with these walks. I recognise how important exercise is and this has been very helpful to a close friend in dealing with his mental health.
What I have learnt
I have learnt how to approach a potential mental health situation and assess before it reaches crisis point; to have an honest and open conversation about suicide and how I develop my understanding of mental ill health. It’s about respect, thought and care. I have also learnt that it is ok not to be ok and that even if we don’t know what is happening to someone, we can see they have changed. But a quick word or friendly smile can make a difference. With so many people either unaware, or seemingly remaining unaware by choice, of mental health and ill health, I wanted to learn how to support someone. The shocking fact that one is four people experience mental ill health every year I find difficult to deal with and I want to be part of changing perceptions.
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