Born in Australia, ‘Mental Health First Aid Training’ is a scheme which treats our mental health the same as our physical health and understands that both might require a bit of first aid sometimes! After it arrived in England around 2007, Coventry University decided to deliver this training to all staff members who come into contact with our students, so that they are equipped with the knowledge to recognise when someone’s mental health is suffering.
1 in four
The training, run by the very lovely Dr Lesley Pearson, started off with her informing us that 1 in 4 people experience a form of mental health problem in a year – so the belief that mental illness is rare is untrue! And that’s unsurprising really, after all, our brains are just as capable of getting poorly as the rest of our bodies.
The problem I’ve found, is that the stigma associated with mental health issues often stops people from seeking help. And that’s no different in students. In fact, at the end of 2015, 78% of students said they had suffered with mental health problems. Another problem I’ve found, is that 1/3 of students say they don’t know where to get support at their university or college (starting to see why I’m writing this blog?!).
The stress bucket
Back to the training! Lesley told us of a really useful way of thinking about why some people’s mental health may be more likely to suffer than others’.
‘The Stress Bucket’ diagram demonstrates how we are all equipped differently to cope with the stresses of life. The bigger the ‘bucket’ in our minds, the greater the scope we have for coping successfully.
The course gave a really useful first insight into:
- Eating disorders
And while it might seem like these are all unpleasant things to talk about, it’s really important we do. Talking and learning from people like Lesley, means we change old habits, learn how to recognise when someone near us could be suffering and increase our ability to be empathetic.
Myths about mental health have long been a part of our culture, so they’re often snuck into our vernacular, or we have no idea they are myths at all!
Here are a few our group had busted for us at the course:
Myth: Mental health problems are rare.
Fact: One in four people will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year.
Myth: People with mental health problems never recover.
Fact: With the right support most people with mental health problems get better.
Myth: People with mental illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable.
Fact: People with a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence.
How this helps you
The training course is intended to give all university employees who have contact with students, a background knowledge of mental health and mental health problems. This way if you ever feel like you need advice from them, they can point you in the right direction toward getting help. This might be something preventative, like helping you through the stresses of exam time. Or it could be that you need help accessing Coventry’s counselling services, or to be advised to speak to your GP.
If you need help
Head to the Health and Wellbeing Centre in TheHub, or login to the student portal where you can find all the support we offer: