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Mental Health First Aid

Last week I qualified as a Mental Health First Aider with MHFA England and James Chapman at All About the Mind (who I thoroughly recommend if you're a wellbeing professional who is looking to do MHFA training)

As someone who has suffered mental ill health in their life, I understand the value of having someone in your life who can lend an empathetic ear or encourage you to get appropriate help, particularly in the midst of crisis. Mental ill health is extremely common in the UK with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues every year. Given the past 18 months these numbers are expected to increase, with a predicted increased prevalence of both depression and anxiety.

As a yoga and meditation teacher, it is not unusual for people to open up to me about their wellbeing and struggles with ill mental health. After a yoga class where I have assisted in providing some regulation through movement and breathwork, people are more relaxed. When people are more relaxed, the social engagement network is activated and they are more willing to share. In this relationship between student and yoga teacher I am viewed as someone with authority and knowledge, and because of this I have had many people open up to me after class over the years. Yet I'm not a doctor, counsellor or therapist, nor have any medical background. So while I've been able to empathetically listen I have often been stuck to know what else I can do in that moment.

MHFA training has qualified me to:

⭐️ Understand the important factors affecting mental ill health

⭐️ Identify the signs and symptoms for a range of mental health conditions

⭐️ Provide Mental Health First Aid to someone experiencing a mental health issue or crisis

⭐️ Listen non-judgementally and hold supportive conversations

⭐️ Signpost people to professional help, and encourage ongoing support

MHFA England are hoping that 1/10 people will be Mental Health First Aid Trained in the coming years. I cannot recommend enough the information and practical skills offered in this training enough. Just like a physical First Aid training you need to renew it every three years and are expected to refer to the material regularly. I’ll definitely need to revisit the material frequently (there’s a LOT of it), but I feel I can offer more appropriate and practical support and guidance to some experiencing mental ill health.

I thoroughly recommend it for yoga teachers as this kind of training is not even touched on in our trainings, yet we are in a position where people often seek guidance from us when they are in a vulnerable place. This becomes even more important when you work with people 1-2-1, and through this process get to know them a little more and they might entrust you with more information.

For workplaces offering wellbeing practises to their employees, if you require the teacher to be able to offer physical First Aid why not make it a requirement that they can also offer Mental Health First Aid if needed?

Have you considered or done MHFA training?

Does your workplace have someone who is MHFA trained?

It'd be great to hear your thoughts!


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