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Just Education at the forefront of Mental Health First Aid in schools

At Just Education, we understand the importance of mental health first aid training in schools and colleges.  In this article we will explore the benefits of having qualified staff in your school, the impact this will have on your whole-school approach to wellbeing and how we can help you to achieve this.

What is mental health first aid?

Mental health first aid (MHFA) is ‘the help given to a young person experiencing a mental health issue before professional help is obtained’.

Youth MHFA is an internationally recognised training course, designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.

At Just Education, we are licensed to deliver the Youth MHFA course; specifically tailored for those who teach, work, live with and care for young people aged 8 to 18.  It focuses on the issues faced by young people today, such as cyber bullying and substance misuse, and teaches how to promote protective factors and access to professional help.

Completing our two-day course qualifies you as a Youth Mental Health First Aider, giving you:

– An in depth understanding of young people’s mental health and factors that affect wellbeing

– Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues

– Confidence to reassure and support a young person in distress

– Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening

– Knowledge to help a young person recover their health by guiding them to further support

– Ability to support a young person with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive 

– Tools to look after your own mental wellbeing

 Each Youth MHFA course from Just Education is delivered by a quality assured instructor and qualified teacher – with over 15 years’ experience of teaching across all sectors of education.

 Why is mental health first aid important?

Record levels of young people are struggling. Academic pressure, social media, bullying, poverty, lack of availability of professional mental health support – all have been named by various sources as contributing to this epidemic of poor mental health in our young people.

Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, are common and often start at a young age – in fact, 50% of mental health issues are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

Source: Kessler: Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders

Social media, peer pressure, bullying, family units breaking down and an increased number of children in the care system have all been suggested as contributing factors to the rise in mental health issues in younger people. Many of these issues affecting mental wellbeing are multiple and often remain undetected and untreated unless agencies such as schools take an active role.

Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools, 2015

Why train your staff in MHFA?

It’s clear that young people are not getting the support they need. Key figures in a young person’s life – parents, family members, teachers, tutors, carers, youth workers – can often spot when a young person is struggling but may not know how best to help.

At Just Education, we train these key adults in a young person’s life to have the skills and confidence to step in, offer first aid and guide them towards the support they need. In doing so, they can speed up a young person’s recovery, stop issues from developing into a crisis, and ultimately save lives.

One of the positive effects of training your staff to be Youth Mental Health First Aiders is that, by giving these adults the information and skills to look after their own mental health, they can set an example for young people.   We share MHFA England’s aim to empower adults to be able to show young people that mental ill health is a part of life in just the same way as physical ill health, that it’s OK to talk about and it’s OK to ask for help.

By giving people the tools to begin these conversations, we empower them to create mentally healthy, supportive environments in schools and wider communities.

How Just Education can help your school

Youth MHFA is designed to teach staff how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health. The training gives people the skills and confidence to safely address mental health issues in young people aged 8 to 18, with a strong practical focus on how to support a young person experiencing mental distress.

Our fully qualified and experienced Youth MHFA instructors are skilled in working with young people, with many years’ experience in teaching and senior leadership posts across all sectors of education.  Candidates who successfully complete our Youth MHFA course will be able to:

  • Recognise the symptoms of mental health issues
  • Intervene early to provide initial help and reassurance
  • Guide a young person to access appropriate professional support, for a faster recovery
  • Stop preventable issues arising by building a supportive culture of wellbeing
  • Embed positive, long term cultural change in policy and procedure
  • Proactively support their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues

In addition to the direct benefit to your young people who may be suffering with mental health issues, Just Education can help you raise awareness of mental health issues in your school and wider community, reduce stigma and discrimination. 

Our Youth MHFA courses are accredited by MHFA England and grounded in evidence through research and evaluation.  If you would like more information about our Youth MHFA why not contact us today.

Matt Loftus

Youth MHFA Instructor Member