Why Mental Health is Important.
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. Even so most of us know very little about mental health. There is lots of evidence to prove that early intervention can help slow down or stop a mental health problem, yet we often don't spot the signs that someone is struggling until very late.
The Government is now pushing employers to support staff within the workplace around Mental Health, and encouraging the uptake of training in awareness raising and mental health first aid. However, for nearly half of our membership, there is no employer, and our industry is high stress, long hours and intense.
BECTU and Mental Health Training for Freelance
As a result of piloting the Mental Health First Aid England programme in 2017, we recognised that we needed to provide access to training to support our freelance members, so that they at the very least, better understood issues of mental health and wellbeing, and could support not only themselves, but others in their work. To bring the Union towards a position of being able to fulfil capacity to roll out this training, we subsequently have trained 2 instructors, and are in process of developing a third. This has enabled us to now train nearly 100 freelance across the Union, but this is not enough, and demand is high.
We also recognise that it is not just enough to train people as Mental Health First Aiders, that there needs to be much more general awareness of mental health across the spectrum, and that there needs to be support to those who are trained to enable them to be first aiders to others. This year we will focus on how we deliver on this, to give the best chance to those who train to look after themselves and others.
Mental Health Awareness Training
Awareness training is aimed at personal development for you to better understand mental health and wellbeing, and how to support yourself and understand others. The half day course is an introductory four-hour session to raise awareness of mental health.
It is designed to give you:
- An understanding of what mental health is and how to challenge stigma
- A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues
- An introduction to looking after your own mental health and maintaining wellbeing
- Confidence to support someone in distress or who may be experiencing a mental health issue
This course is ideal for the majority of freelance who want to improve their knowledge and understanding of mental health issues.
Mental Health First Aid Training
MHFA training is designed to qualify you as a Mental Health First Aider, in much the same way you would expect Physical First Aid. The course is intense, and can be demanding emotionally, but highly rewarding in developing your understanding around mental health issues and enabling you to become a first aider, who can support yourself and others.
Mental Health First Aiders have:
- An in depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
- Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix
Learning takes place across four manageable sessions. Through a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions, each session is built around a Mental Health First Aid action plan.
We limit numbers to 16 people per course so that the instructor can keep people safe and supported while they learn.
Everyone who completes the course gets:
- A manual to refer to whenever you need it
- A workbook including a helpful toolkit to support your own mental health
- A certificate of attendance to say you are a Mental Health First Aider
Courses run nationally across England, with Nations also providing courses in Wales and Scotland.