Mental Health First Aid – why is it so important?

A new tree shoot starting to grow in a forest

Mental health difficulty has been around since the beginning of history, and many different approaches and ideas relating to the management of our minds have been trialled and disputed.

A major recent shift in attitude came in 1945, post-World War Two. Many soldiers returning to society were unable to leave the chaos of the war behind. Instead they found that the violent and traumatic memories of the battlefield were seeping into the new lives they were trying to build.

This mental trauma manifested itself as broken thoughts, rushes of adrenaline, paranoia and ultimately the inability to function within their new world. Suddenly England’s health services (this was just prior to the formation on the NHS) could no longer just focus on the physical perspective of illness. Mental health had undeniably situated itself as a new threat.

Another relentless war that had previously buried itself within the deep-rooted stigma was about to be unearthed. We were not prepared for this to emerge, nor did we initially accept the consequences and devastation.

Since moving forward with a new post-war understanding of mental health, increased awareness of this issue has sparked improved action, relating to supporting individuals with poor mental health. From legislation such as the Mental Health Act 2007 (setting clear guidelines for mental health practitioners responsibilities) to current The Five- Year Forward View for Mental Health set out in 2016 (which sets strategic guidance to improve mental health outcomes across health and care systems).

However, it’s clear that there is still a need for improvements. The economic cost of ill mental health is estimated at £74-99 billion a year, and one in four of us will experience a mental health-related issue in a year.

Major events such as the Covid-19 pandemic also feed into a growing realisation that mental ill health is still as prevalent as ever. A study compiled by the Covid-19: Mental Health and Wellbeing Surveillance Report showed that scores for anxiety in April 2020 were significantly higher than previous population estimates.

How do we move forward?

Ironically, it now looks as if this blog was created with the intention to scare individuals into taking the importance of mental health seriously. However, rather than focus on the negative cloud that hangs over mental ill health, do not let this overshadow how we can utilise understanding in order to approach this battle proactively.

This is where the brilliance of a Mental Health First Aid course (also known as an MHFA England course) comes into action. Through not only learning about a wide range of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychotic disorders, you are also taught step by step methods on how to support an individual going through a mental health crisis.

Not only does this broaden your understanding of how mental ill health affects individuals, but this course will also give you the tools and space to reflect upon your own relationship with mental health. Mental Health First Aiders are recognised by the World Health Organization, which aim to train a billion people by 2030 about how to identify mental health problems and how to respond with care.

MHFA England aspires to educate individuals and corporate workplaces on how to spot early warning signs of a person entering a mental health crisis. The courses are led by passionate and enthusiastic mental health first aid instructors, who share experiences and stories on how to look after yourself and others.

Mental Health First Aid is for everyone and is an internationally recognised training course that aims to offer new perspectives towards mental health. Mental health First Aid will open your eyes to what you can do to help an individual in crisis and what you can do to remain safe.

How do I join the fight against stigma?

 If this blog has inspired you to join the millions of other qualified Mental Health First Aiders, then the next step is simple!

Just register your interest with an organisation that offers MHFA England approved training (such as Thrive), and from here you will be directed to our various training packages tailored to suit your needs.

Upon completion of the MHFA England comprehensive training, you will be sent an accredited certificate as well as information manuals for you to keep throughout your course, and afterwards to ensure you can keep up to date with relevant knowledge.

Mental Health First Aid is so important – it’s a revolutionary mindset that combines holistic approaches towards mental health teaching whilst factoring in the physical impact of battling ill mental health disorders.

Do something life-changing. Make a difference.