Blog | Mental Health First Aid Training

14 May 2018

As Scouts we’re proud of our first aid skills, but how many of us have thought about mental health first aid training? Working with young people every week, leaders could play an important role in encouraging a young person to seek the right support if they are struggling.

That’s why Alan, a trainer for East Scotland, thought it was important to organise mental health first aid training for leaders in his region. We caught up with him to find out more about it.

What prompted you to organise Mental Health First Aid training for your region?

Through my work as a psychologist, I’ve seen a rise in the need for mental health support for young people. So, I thought about what we could do to help leaders who work with young people to feel better equipped to manage that, whether at the Scout hall or at a major event like Blair Atholl Jamborette.

What steps did you take to organise the training?

I realised that there was actually so much out there with the Scottish Mental Health First Aid programme.

After discussing it with our Regional Commissioner, I checked out the website and found out what courses were available in our area. Courses are run by the NHS’s health promotion team and sometimes people from outside the NHS can access the training. I was put in touch with a local trainer and after gauging interest from volunteers through our Regional Facebook group, we arranged a date. We had around 60 people interested in attending.

What format did the training take?

There are two kinds of training available – working with adults or working with young people. We chose the training for working with young people. That comes in three different parts.

The first part is done online, and is not unlike some of our online learning for Scouting modules. After you’ve completed that, you do a day course. The day course is full of interactive activities, which really help you to understand how to approach or listen to young people and understand some of the background information that might be going on.

After the day course, you do some more online learning to work your way through much more detailed information about common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. You will also need to do some reflective tasks, recalling and reviewing what you’ve learned so far.

What feedback have you had about the training day from participants?

People really enjoyed the day. Those of us who attended felt more empowered about talking to young people and knowing what to do in certain situations. They also felt more confident about identifying the right circumstances for tackling difficult questions around self-harming or suicidal thoughts. Previously they might have shied away from those topics.

The course doesn't make you an expert but it will help you to become skilled enough to be able to recognise a situation and support a young person to seek out help.

Find out more

Would you like to organise similar training for your district or region? Check out the Scottish Mental Health First Aid website for courses available locally. Please note that for some areas, there might be a cost.