Mind Cymru Launch New Mental Health ‘First Aid’ Course

Wales’ first mental health first aid course is being launched. Charity Mind Cymru says it hopes the training will raise awareness about mental health problems.

It aims to recruit and train 75 people across the country to become instructors who will deliver the course in their areas over the next year.

Participants will learn about common mental health problems, including drugs, depression and self-harm, but they will not diagnose conditions.

The charity said one in four experienced mental health problems each year in Britain.

One of Mind Cymru’s training managers, Carol Evans, said the course was a “wonderful concept to educate people” about the issues.

“Lots of people have done ‘physical’ first aid courses; nobody does mental first aid courses because there is fear and superstition which surrounds mental health,” Ms Evans said.

“I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of the stigma.”

Ms Evans, who has been a project manager for Mind in the Vale of Clwyd for six years, said the course would give people the tools to help others and be able to guide them to relevant organisations.

“I used to be a service user for some years as part of my recovery,” she said. “I wanted to become involved with Mind and I did a psychology degree with the Open University.”

Mentoring system

The training is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and was developed in Australia.

It is hoped it will attract workers from a variety of settings, voluntary and community groups, and workplaces.

These groups include the ambulance service, police forces and prison service, health and social care, staff in further and higher education.

Ms Evans said she hoped organisations would nominate people who would be able to spot symptoms and guide people to relevant organisations.

The training includes two days for the course, three days for development and two days for assessment.

There will be a mentoring system in place once training is completed.

The course runs in conjunction with the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) programme which is also offered by Mind.

The assembly government has set a target of a 10% drop in suicides by 2012. The project has trained more than 400 people from more than 60 different organisations in Wales during the past year.