To start with let me introduce myself. My name is Toby Thomas and I am the Arts & Minds Development Worker hosted by Artlink. For anyone that does not already know, Arts & Minds is a network that promotes positive mental health though creative engagement for people living, working or volunteering in the Leeds area. My role involves working with a diverse range of people in different settings and sometimes the people I work with are struggling with their mental health so, when I heard about the free Mental Health First Aid Training that Arts Together were offering, I signed up straight away.
I had previously attended the shorter non-accredited version of the training so I had an idea of what would be covered but I have to say that I thought that this two-day accredited version of the training was excellent and I took a lot away from it. The course covered a huge amount in a short time with clear, practical explanations of what we mean when we talk about our mental health and wellbeing, the continuum of mental health that we are all on, and the difference between a mental health condition, episode, crisis and emergency.
The training covered the stigma around mental health and the risk factors associated with poor mental health and, as thecourse went on, we learnt how to recognise and respond to a range of mental health conditions and the importance of promoting positive attitudes towards mental health. The sessions were run in a very open and thoughtful way and the trainer from St John Ambulance was excellent, facilitating non-judgmental conversations about mental health so that people felt comfortable to ask anything they wanted which led to some really interesting and productive conversations.
I think the easiest way to try to explain why we should all be doing Mental Health First Aid Training is the same as the way you would tell someone that we should all be doing the more traditional first aid courses that we are all familiar with. If someone falls over and breaks their leg you are much better equipped to help if you have training. Likewise, if someone has a mental health episode, your ability to respond is greatly improved if you have done the Mental Health First Aid Training.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Arts Together for putting on this training, to the trainer from St Johns Ambulance and to all the staff at Opera North for hosting the two days. I would encourage everyone to do the course and I hope Arts Together will be able to run similar courses again. Finally, there is one great way to improve your mental health which is to join the Arts & Minds Network (it’s free and easy to join) and come along to some of the sessions and events that we run. To join just fill in the form on our website: www.artsandmindsnetwork.org.uk/join-us
Written by Toby Thomas
Supported by Arts Together