Why Mental Health First Aiders are important within education

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people, with 50% of mental health problems being established by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 25. The Mental Health Foundation states that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. Having a Mental Health First Aider within education can help by allowing staff to spot the signs of mental health issues in a young person, offer first aid and guide them towards the support they need. They will be taught to listen, reassure and respond to a potential crisis.

The London youth mental health programme
Thrive LDN and MHFA England have launched a new youth mental health programme to support the mental health and wellbeing of young Londoners. It will see every state-funded primary and secondary school and further education college in London have access to a Youth Mental Health First Aider by 2021. The Youth Mental Health First Aid Two Day course will be delivered to approximately 2,000 teachers, pastoral staff and peer mentors across schools in London.

The introduction into university courses
In 2015, over 15,000 first-year university students disclosed a mental health problem according to the Institute for Public Policy Research. Mental health is important throughout all aspects of an individual’s life including university! The University of Northampton has just added Mental Health First Aid to the Northampton nursing course curriculum following a successful trial with around 100 students and the new unit will be available for all undergraduate nursing courses from this October (2018). The new topic will teach nurses to spot crucial warning signs of mental illnesses and guide them towards the support they need. The aim of the University of Northampton is to train more than 300 mental health first aiders each year, which will provide them with the skills to identify mental health issues within their university peers and their patients. Coventry University are also training their students on healthcare courses to be Mental Health First Aiders.

Rise in awareness at universities
Along with the introduction of Mental Health First Aid training within some university courses, staff are also now being trained on the subject. The University of Kent has trained their front-line staff on Mental Health First Aid, as well as promoting Mental Health Awareness within their student union and have created a student mental health support group. There are numerous universities which have trained their staff in MHFA including King’s College London, University of York, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Sunderland.

Secondary schools have £200,000 funding
Since June last year (2017), teachers in secondary schools around the country have been partaking in Mental Health First Aid training to help them identify and respond to signs of mental health issues in children. Over three years around 3,000 staff will be receiving Mental Health First Aid Training following on from the government’s pledge in the Queen’s Speech to improve mental health services in the country.

Where’s Your Head At? campaign
Where’s Your Head At is a campaign to change workplace law so that employees have their mental safeguard in the same way they do their physical health. The aim is to get a Mental Health First Aider in every workplace and school. Natasha Devon MBE has teamed up with Bauer Media (Grazia, Heat, Kiss FM, Empire, The DeBrief) and Mental Health First Aid England to launch a petition asking the government to make it compulsory for workers to have colleagues trained in how to spot signs of mental distress, listen non-judgmentally and point them in the direction of any further help or support they might need. http://www.wheresyourheadat.org/

Where can you find a Mental Health First Aid course?
Your Wellness Hub provides Mental Health First Aid Training to arm employees with the skills and confidence to recognise and support anyone dealing with mental stress. If you are interested in Mental Health First Aid Training, please contact Your Wellness Hub on info@yourwellnesshub.co.uk or visit the website www.yourwellnesshub.co.uk.