My next blog was supposed to be a reflection of my first year of teaching A-Level, however a very important issue that has affected both me, some of my colleagues, and 100s of teachers across the country, is mental health, therefore I thought it would be prudent to write a blog post regarding recent mental health training I undertook.
I have been involved in the conversation on mental health amongst for a number of years, however I was introduced to the impact of mental health on teachers during my PGCE year. I have been looking into some official mental health training, as I have many students, colleagues and friends who I have helped previously, but the formal training would be a chance to enhance my understanding of mental health in the workplace and what practical steps I can take to help others. I was chosen to become a Mental Health First Aider by my manager and completed the training at my workplace with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) (https://mhfaengland.org) with Dawn Hardman (@dawnhardman – Twitter).
Mental Health First Aid England is a social enterprise programme accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health the has been around for over ten years in England. Their vision is to open up the conversation on mental health, keep this conversation continuing, and “to improve the mental of the nation”. Although the conversation regarding mental health has improved, we all still have a very long way to go. MHFA are at the forefront of decreasing and eliminating the stigma still attached to mental health. There are some excellent resources we were provided with:
Our mental health master trainer, Dawn Hardman, was phenomenal – her work ethic, dedication to teaching about mental ill health, and her passion to help those who suffer was evident throughout our training. Dawn is literally a fountain of knowledge, she perfectly planned our training so that it was relevant to everyone, as we had a culmination of teachers, educators, members of the Safeguarding team and external HR managers with very different experiences. The training was relevant for colleagues, students, family and friends and Dawn was able to create a very comfortable and safe environment for everyone. Just as a teacher makes the classroom a safe and comfortable environment for their environment, I truly believe trainers have to make the environment safe for their trainees, and Dawn mastered this. We knew we would be having some intense and difficult conversations, as everyone has experience or knows someone who has experienced mental ill health, and Dawn made sure we all set some ground rules we could easily stick to. Furthermore, Dawn often repeated a very important point; in order to keep us safe, she shared stories of patients and people she had worked with. This was also a great tool I have been using with my students who suffer from mental ill health, in order to show them that its okay to talk about our mental ill health and to highlight that this isn’t something they go through alone.
We all came away with vital lessons, tips and messages to use in our personal and professional lives. Overall, the training was a gateway to endless knowledge and support that MHFA provide. Since completing the training, I have become even more aware of mental ill health and made some positive changes for myself, my students, family and friends.
Here is a list of organisations and apps you may find useful:
Organisations: Minds Matter, Mind, Time to Change, Anxiety UK, Samaritans.
Apps: ‘Mates in Construction’, ‘Stay Alive’, ‘Hub of Hope’
MHFA offer in-house training to all workplaces – you can get in touch with them for more information at: