Emma Dillon (left) and Claire Cross.

Despite the pandemic, the University’s mental health first aid team (MHFA) have been busy continuing to train members of the local community and preparing to extend this support.

One half of the team manage training for staff and the other for students and external stakeholders. Since MHFA started at UON in 2017, they have trained more than 1,400 UON people to be fully proficient ‘MHFA-ers’.

This figure includes 120 members of staff, 50 staff from the Students’ Union and more than 1,000 nursing students from all four BSc degrees at the University (MHFA training is now a core part of their curriculum).

In addition, over 100 external stakeholders and members of the public have completed one of the MHFA training sessions available.

During lockdown most UON staff members were working from home, but staff training in Mental Health Awareness continued for some in an adapted online version of the course, including our security team.

Also, the half-day, ‘introduction to mental health’ course (Mental Health Aware) provided by the team and which is available to interested members of the public switched to being hosted online in April.

Participants have been logging on from across England and even as far afield as Portugal. They range from HR professionals, teachers, pharmacists and surveyors.

Feedback has been uniformly positive, with one candidate saying:

“I have completed online courses with UONMHFA and highly recommend it.  The team of instructors are not just trained to deliver these courses – they have extensive hands on experience of working in the health sector and are extremely knowledgeable and personable.  I personally felt it a privilege to have the opportunity of training with such fantastic tutors.”

The next sessions available will be held on 16 and 26 Sep, 8 October, 14 November and 2 December and can be booked on our online shop.

The team’s MHFA training plans for the remainder of this year and going in to 2021 – Covid restrictions permitting – include:

  • UON’s Postgraduate research team – in recognition that members of the PGR team can undergo stress at times
  • UON’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHs) students – empowering them to look after themselves and those around them and to enhance their professional roles
  • Local schools – working with Teach Northamptonshire to deliver training for teachers in some schools across the county
  • Other partners – training will be extended include some teams at BMI
  • BSc Nursing students – continue with programme of compulsory training for all nursing students, but in smaller groups to abide by social distancing requirements.

Emma Dillon, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, works alongside colleague Claire Cross, HR Business Partner, to deliver MHFA training. She said:#

“Our vison is to enable a range of people from a different communities to access MHFA educational resources and feel more confident to look after their own mental health and to support mental health in other, including signposting them to relevant resources and help organisations.

“It’s about more than about taking part in a workshop, for that’s just the start of your MH awareness journey. It’s about a positive culture change, making a socially impactful mark in line with our Changemaker ethos and enhancing the emotional literacy of our local community, from students, staff and beyond.”

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