Becoming a Mental Health First Aider
Today is World Mental Health day and here at nDreams we want to ensure we offer our colleagues support at work in this vital part of their lives. In this blog our HR Manager Vikki talks about becoming a mental health first aider and shares some of her learnings from the course she undertook…
When I was given the chance to train to be a mental health first aider I jumped at the opportunity, however this was quickly followed by apprehension. Was I equipped to be a mental health first aider? With minimum experience, the exception being dealing with my own mental health over the years, I wondered would I be good enough to help others?
You think of first aid and you think of the practical things such a bandaging people up and helping them if they hurt themselves. Providing someone with the support for something you can’t see or even understand was a whole different story. I went along with an open mind and learnt that being a mental first aider isn’t a dark art, it’s about being a decent human being, being supportive and showing empathy when people are going through difficult times. This course aimed to educate on a range of mental health illnesses and remove the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds the topic. Using a model called ALGEE, we learnt how to approach, assess, assist, listen, give support and encourage. As a mental health first aider, the objective is to provide that time and space for someone to be listened to, not try to fix them.
Mental health affects all of us and understanding that we all have mental health was probably my biggest take away from the course. We all need to look after ourselves not only in a physical sense but also a psychological sense. Life is so busy, and the volatile world feels like it is moving at 100 miles an hour. Social media, whether you embrace or reject it, affects us all in some way. We live in a world where we are being judged constantly, often publicly and some of us compare and despair of everything we see. There are times when you just want to pull the lever, stop the bus and get off but it’s not that simple. It can be hard to recognise when you need time out, when you mentally need a break… There was an article recently written and shared on LinkedIn about technology giving us an opportunity to switch off from everything, nDreams virtual reality experience Perfect VR was cited as an example of something that does allow this. Today we’ve set up an area in the office for people to go relax and switch off in Perfect should they chose to, we may even keep it there as a permanent set up!
Since completing the course, I have made it my mission to look out for those people who may not obviously need help, to provide help to those who do and to spend more time on my own mental wellbeing. We all need to look after ourselves. I personally ensure I allow myself to go “missing” for half an hour, have that half of hour of doing something that brings me peace and happiness. Even if that means going to an exercise class and releasing those great endorphins, which is not something I skip out of the door to do, but I make myself as it makes me feel good. I surround myself with people who make me happy. Try it. No matter how busy your life is, how many demands you have on your time, you still deserve that time for you. Be selfish, take that time and learn to be a better and more energised person for it.