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Video: what does it take to be a Mental Health First Aider?

Exciting news – I am now a qualified Mental Health First Aider. I’ve got a certificate and everything.

This means I now have in depth skills for providing first aid to people that may be experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Earlier this year M&IT carried out our first ever Mental Health Survey, which painted a picture of event professionals struggling to stay afloat. Forty per cent of respondents said that they had at some point suffered from, or been diagnosed with, mental ill health.

And more than one in three of respondents said that working in the events industry has had a negative effect on their mental health.

As an issue that’s affecting a large percentage of our industry I wanted to find out more, so I joined the two day course led by Laura Capell-Abra of Stress Matters.

Mental health first aid is the mental health equivalent of physical first aid. Through a combination of workshops and exercises, activities and discussions, the training provides participants with the skills to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right support.

Considering the two days were filled with discussions of topics including anxiety, substance misuse, suicide, psychosis, self-harm and eating disorders, it was actually a remarkably fun course to participate in, conducted in a really positive atmosphere.

There were content warnings ahead of any potential trigger subjects and regular check-ins to make sure we were coping ok.

One of the main things I took away from the two days was the confidence to approach someone who is showing signs of mental ill health, to assess and assist and listen, and to give support and to encourage them to get support themselves.

It also made me realise how important our use of language around the subject is, as mental health is still a topic with a lot of stigma and discrimination attached.

But the biggest thing I learned was the importance of raising awareness of mental health.

Stress Matters has a campaign, #MHFAEveryEvent, aimed at getting a qualified Mental Heath First Aider at every event, just as you would have a physical first aider.

It really is just as important.