Written by Leanne Herbert (NNCO Disability Officer)
Last week I became a Youth Mental Health First Aider. The 2 day youth course, for people that teach, work, live with or care for young people aged 8 – 18 years and which is available to everyone, was developed in Australia in 2007 following the introduction of Mental Health First Aid in 2001.
The course gave me and other delegates insight into:
Early detection, support and professional intervention are crucial for people who experience mental health problems, and with an estimated 850,000 children who have a diagnosable mental health disorder in the UK*, that equates to 3 children in every classroom.
The social stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental illness can make difficulties and recovery worse even when most people who experience mental health problems recover fully, or are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get help early on.
Everyone has ‘mental health’, including good or positive mental wellness, and the course has enabled me to spot the early signs of mental health problems in young people, first aid techniques to protect a young person who may be at risk of harm as well as how to prevent a mental health illness from getting worse. Most importantly, was learning how to guide a young person towards access to the right support.
Quite surprisingly within one week of attending the course, I have been able to apply knowledge I developed into my working practices and to support an individual with mental ill health. I wish to continue to highlight mental health awareness, to reduce the continuing stigma that surrounds it and promote a supportive culture for where I live and work.
From January 2016, I will be able to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid Courses to Schools and Colleges within the Reach Partnership.