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Mental Health First Aid training - worth doing?

Last week I completed a Mental Health First Aid course. I did it because I thought it was worth doing given my experiences of the last couple of years. I thought I might learn a couple of interesting things.

I also did it because tomorrow, next week and later in May, I have bookings to tell my story to the teams of some MR agencies I know. I realised I had been advocating having Mental Health First Aiders in place just in case my story telling acted as a catalyst. I then felt a bit of a hypocrite having not done the training so I signed myself up.


Module 3 amongst other things was about anxiety disorders - in fact the first page of section 3 is about it.


I learned that an anxiety disorder differs from normal (whatever that means) anxiety in the following ways:

  1. It is more severe

  2. It is long-lasting

  3. It interferes with the person's work or relationships

I then learned that from a definition point of view there are 5 physical effects, 9 psychological effects and 4 behavioural effects.


Then the Goldberg Anxiety Scale was introduced which is one of the tools used by medical professionals as a test for anxiety levels. There are 9 questions and you score 1 point for each 'yes'. The higher the score, the higher the likelihood of there being an anxiety disorder at play.



This is my book and I have used pink highlighter to tick off all the ones that applied to me for an extended period of time leading up to and during my breakdown.


Turns out I had been suffering with an un-diagnosed general anxiety disorder for well over a year) which turned into a panic disorder (attack) that led to my breakdown.


I've been a Manager or Team Leader in one way shape or form for about the last 20 years.


If I had been required as a part of my role to go on this course, I would have better understood a great deal of what my team had brought to me and been a FAR better manager as a result.


If my manager and my peers had been on this course, there's a very good chance my symptoms could have been noticed by them and me far earlier. I might have been able to address them before they became chronic and evolved into a disorder with life changing consequences.


This course cost me £150.


The cost to my former employer of me being off sick for 9 months in 2019 was in easily in excess of £250,000.


The human cost can be far, far higher, tragic and permanent.


The management team of my client to whom I giving my talk next week, is doing their MH 1st Aid course this week (before I speak to them and their team). They've realised this is important, that it's more than a CSR exercise and that there's a very real chance they're going to need what it teaches for themselves as well as their staff.


I've been wondering what it might be like if companies put as much attention into the psychological safety of their staff as they do to their physical safety and what part MH 1st aid might play in that. Seems timely given the return to the office being discussed. I wonder how much has been spent already wrapping desks in yellow tape, putting stickers all over the place and generally being covid ready...

The cost to you in time and pounds for doing it is extremely low. The cost of you not doing it could be beyond measure.


There are hundreds of providers but I found mine via https://mhfaengland.org/


I've got 3 talks booked, 2 more being agreed and want to have done at least 10 by the end of the year. Click on this link to have a chat about what it is and how it can help you and your team. https://calendly.com/jamespicklescoaching/35min


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