Lessons In Mental Health First Aid

The first courses in mental health first aid training delivered by NHS Forth Valley to senior pupils in a number of Forth Valley schools have been very well received with pupils reporting increased skills and confidence in recognising mental health problems.

Forty-one senior pupils from seven Stirling’s secondary schools (Bannockburn, Beaconhurst, McLaren, Queen Victoria, St Modan’s, Stirling and Wallace) undertook the course earlier this year as part of a move to develop the role of Mental Health Champions in Schools.

Feedback was extremely positive with young people reporting that not only were they more aware of mental health issues in Scotland, but were also able to offer better support and advice.

NHS Forth Valley Senior Health Promotion Officer, Fiona Macfarlane, said: “Often when young people experience mental health problems they find it very difficult to speak about them but this course is about giving youngsters the skills and confidence to offer peer support.”

Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) training is a national programme delivered over 12 hours to give people the confidence to respond to a person in distress or experiencing a mental health problem. Like the more familiar physical first aid courses, mental health first aid is designed to provide comfort and preserve life until appropriate or professional help arrives or the crisis resolves.

The course deals with attitudes, recovery, the impact of alcohol and drugs, suicide, self-harm, depression, anxiety and psychosis. It does not train people to be mental health workers but provides information about mental health problems and practical skills to allow them to respond to someone in need.

Some of the young people trained also represented their school at Just Breath Stirling – a wellbeing event for S3-S6 pupils.