Business Services

Why "Mental Health First Aid" training is often not the answer

By Levi Pay
August 2020

When faced with a distressed person – whether it is a member of the public, a colleague, or a service user ‐ colleagues can feel overwhelmed.
Colleagues can be tempted to avoid certain clients as a result, or, in other cases, find themselves taking on far too much – becoming almost a pseudo‐counsellor and getting lost in attempts to provide whatever support the individual seems to need.

In terms of potential solutions, we know that many organisations and companies are reaching for training solutions like "Mental Health First Aid". However, we have serious concerns about some of these ‘off the shelf’ mental health training packages.

These courses are often delivered by people with no experience of supporting distressed individuals or people at risk (it takes just 5 days to become qualified from scratch as a Mental Health First Aid trainer). Also, because these courses focus on mental health conditions and their signs and symptoms, they often leave participants feeling they have to develop an even more in‐depth knowledge of mental health conditions or become more embroiled in conversations with clients or colleagues about their mental health.

Indeed, even labelling a staff member as a “mental health first‐aider” can feel like a burden for a member of staff, who can be concerned about the cases that will come their way after attending the training.

At Plinth House, we maintain that it is more important that we equip staff at all levels of our organisations with the practical skills they
need to respond effectively to a distressed person, and do so in a boundaried and role‐appropriate way. We consider it key that we make colleagues feel confident about mental health issues, but without them feeling pressured to act as mental health specialists.

Our training sessions, which can range from a 60-minute online training session to a full-day course, have been developed by people with extensive experience as managers of support services or in clinical mental health roles.

The practical content concentrates on the practical skills that colleagues need to manage and reduce a person’s distress, while, at the same time, looking after their own wellbeing in these interactions and protecting their boundaries of their role.

Contact us to find our more about our bespoke 'Managing distressed client' and 'Managing distressed customer' training courses.

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