Learning together….virtually!

It’s strange how Coronavirus has managed to change my mind completely on virtual training. I know some remote locations globally have used virtual methods to deliver skills, training and education in all areas for many years.

Up until March this year when the Coronavirus curve ball hit us all, I didn’t feel I personally could deliver valuable training online. How wrong was I?

Having done nothing but virtual training over the last six months I see how much more inclusive and nurturing it is. It gives a much wider reach enabling people based throughout the UK and beyond to join from the comfort of their home sharing their knowledge and experiences.

I know see 90% of my business going forward will be on a virtual platform rather than classroom environment. So many more advantages to the virtual stage. All being there is good internet access of course!

At the start of the pandemic I made the decision to find an exact product to replace MHFAEngland’s three courses I’m licensed to deliver. Their half day awareness course, one day champion course and two day adult First Aider course. None of which are accredited.

I discovered http://www.nucotraining.com which recently added three accredited courses which match what I was looking for. Nuco has a solid reputation in the first aid, H&S and associated environments.

However, there was a few steps first! I had to apply and be screened against Nuco’s criteria. I also had to do a L3 formal Education and Training course with CTC before I could be accepted for Instructor training. I was a little deflated as I’m pretty impatient when it comes to me getting things done! CTC’s website showed the L3 qualification took unto a year. I really didn’t want to wait that long!!!

Thankfully with the curve ball of Coronavirus and home working, I managed to complete the L3 in under three months! Once I had this qualification I was able to get accepted by Nuco on their last virtual training session for Mental Health First Aid planned for 2020.

Everything fell into place beautifully!

Level 1 is a four hour workshop to raise awareness which a written paper at the end to prove knowledge and attain the Level 3 qualification.

Level 2 is six hours with a written paper and practical session to gain the

Level 3 qualifies someone to be the First Aider and is 12 hours long with 2 papers to complete and a practical session.

The beauty of virtual training is illustrated by people on the Instructor’s course with me. Based throughout the UK as well as Guernsey and in Afghanistan!

Martin, the Nuco Instructor, shared techniques and resources. Engaging, challenging and robust.

An exhausting but strangely energising experience.

Now I have a 5 accredited courses on mental health and wellbeing to add to my portfolio of workshops available for clients wishing to ensure the wellbeing of their staff.

Opportunity presents itself in the most unexpected ways.

The benefits of virtual learning

For the 10+ years I’ve been a MHFAEngland Instructor, I’ve been looking for a mental health and wellbeing programme to deliver which was accredited by a qualifying body delivering real value rather than the usual courses that just end with a Certificate of Attendance.

I stumbled across http://www.i-act.co.uk who devised mental health and well-being products specifically for the workplace. Both courses come with a 168 page manual, 50 self-help tools to use and 95 referral organisations for different mental health issues.

Having done the manager’s course – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLBeing – accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with CPD points – I knew this was a key product which would deliver real value to my clients.

I decided to apply for the Instructor’s accreditation to deliver both the manager course and the ‘Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and WELLbeing in the Workplace’ for non-management employees.

At the start of this week myself and others from all corners of the UK, Bahrain and Hong Kong met online with one of the co-founders Pete – a Clinical Psychiatrist and mine of information – also our Instructor. After watching Pete deliver, we then had to deliver the whole programme in our own style with a couple of peers giving feedback.

Solid connections were made. Messages of encouragement flowed over WhatsApp as we all became accredited instructors.

I now intend adding these two excellent courses to my portfolio of training to employers looking to ensure their staff at all levels are maintaining optimum levels of wellbeing duding real value to their bottom line and brand reputation.

The opportunities that open up when you least expect them can lead to incredible places.

Is this a good or bad thing? – Mental Health under 18s at NHS A&E

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/04/mental-health-young-people-in-crisis-waiting-hours-for-ae-help?dm_i=52KI,4EIF,1OHPLR,FT3K,1

 

The above feature in The Guardian by Young Minds shows 13,567 under 18s accessed A&E departments in England alone over the previous year.

 

This suggests a number of things to me:

 

Stigma – the core reason people didn’t reach out for help when they needed it seems to be rescinding.  People – especially young people see mental health on a par with physical health.  This is surely a good thing as they are no longer suffering alone in silence.

England only – the 13,000+ quoted by Young Minds of under 18s is for England only.  I find this startling thinking of what the overall figures would be for the entire Union of Britain.

Right place? – is a busy, noisy A&E environment the right place for someone with mental health issues?  Especially if they experience an average of four hour wait time as the feature states.

 

Overall, I believe the rising stats show people who are suffering are no longer holding back on seeking help due to stigma.  This shows how far we have come as part of humanity is busting the myths and stigma surrounding mental health.

 

There are a growing number of dedicated charities with bespoke experience in supporting all ages, backgrounds and cultures.  Some have 24/7 services including text lines or phone lines.  I think one of the key missing pieces of information is a knowledge of the applicable charities available.  These should be advertised everywhere – schools, colleges, doctors, dentists, opticians, supermarkets, job centre plus offices absolutely everywhere people go.  Giving people a menu of options enables them to select what might be the most suitable for them and reduce the pressure on A&E hospital services.

Some charities I know that might help you/those you know are below.  Why not keep a few in your mobile ? – you never know when you might need them:

 

Give Us a Shout – 24/7 Crisis Text time – text Shout to 85258

Young Minds – website with signposting resources for young people and their parents – http://www.youngminds.org

Place 2 Be – website – resources for school children – http://www.place2be.org.uk

Campaign Against Living Miserably – web chat and helpline manned 5pm-midnight http://www.thecalmzone.net

 

 

 

 

 

Find it tough to start a conversation about your feelings?

We are becoming more aware about mental ill health in the workplace, education and our families/communities.  We know starting a conversation can save a life.

 

But what about when it’s us who needs the help?  Often those who are supportive to others find it difficult to reach out.

 

Earlier this year I trained to be a crisis volunteer with Give Us A Shout – a text crisis line launched in the UK by HRH Prince William earlier this year.  It was devised in USA  by Nancy Lubin about six years ago and has proven evidence it saves lives.  Crisis Text Line is now global.

 

For those embarrassed, isolated or just overthinking they are not worthy of help and can’t speak to anyone, this text line is a life saving solution.  The Crisis Volunteers are trained to deal with every situation including worries about debt, relationships, bereavement, work, self harm, suicidal thoughts and much more.

 

All anyone has to do to get help from this 24/7 service is to text Shout to 85258.  Pass this on to anyone you know who is suffering right now.

 

We’ve just had the global world suicide prevention day.  But let’s not forget about the importance of noticing a change in someone and starting a conversation.  People are suffering every day.  Over 6,500 suicides were recorded in the UK in 2018 – over 200 young people.

 

In the UK employers have a legal duty of care under Health & Safety Regulations.  They also have a duty of care for mental health and wellbeing of their staff under the Equalities Act 2010.

 

Time to talk.  Time to reach out if you are suffering too.

 

The earliest intervention starts with a conversation.

 

 

 

Unacceptable Stats

It’s shocking to read BiTC’s report on mental health in the workplace 2017 – link below.  The feature photo shows two startling facts BiTC’s report has uncovered.

 

https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/research-articles/mental-health-work-report-2017

 

Have we learnt so little?  For employers there is a huge positive hit to their bottom line when they address mental health in their business but raising awareness and delivering training.  As a Mental Health First Aid Instructor I know businesses are doing more.  Let’s consider some stats from MHFAEngland:

 

  • 31% of staff said they would leave their current job if stress levels didn’t decrease in the coming year
  • 70 million sick days are lost to mental health costing UK plc £70-£100bn
  • Presentism – underperforming at work due to mental health issues costs £15.1bn to UK plc
  • Awareness, training and openness on mental health in the workplace decreases the risk of being sued
  • Legal obligation – mental health issues including self-harm are protected under 2010 Equality Act.

 

We have evidence that suicide is thankfully reducing even though it’s a slight reduction.  The ratio remains three times more men than women complete suicide,   Clearly there is a lot more work to be done for both business and us individuals.

 

Can hearts and minds be changed quickly enough?

 

 

Personal Evaluation – Good or Bad Thing?

Traditionally, this has been carried out as an annual appraisal.  Usually, these are looked on with trepidation.  The build-up to the day, the 1-2-1 meeting and ultimate judgement on your performance.  Hopefully, it goes well…………. If it doesn’t you end up deflated.

 

As a trainer, I’m evaluated by every participant on every course.  This can be hundreds of evaluations on me every year!   Part of my business is encouraging the unemployed into work.  Supporting them as they overcome issues and doubts along the way.

 

Often, I’ve very lucky to get thank you gifts once people have gone into work and received their first salary.  This endorses my performance evaluation as it’s often a month or two after completion.  It’s really humbling to know I make a profound difference to people who I know will go on and support others.

 

Flowers & chocolates above from Unity & Co – aka Zara & Nabiha Growing Talent 13……..

 

In addition to Growing Talent, the employment programme I devised and run sponsored by PwC, I’m a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Wellbeing Instructor.  Participants evaluate each course as well which is shared with hiring clients.

 

On reflection, I believe it’s much better to not wait until an annual appraisal to find out what others think of you professionally but ask along the way – ‘how am I doing?’, ‘is there something I could do better?’.

 

Giving ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what we do right and what we need to improve, make us much better human beings and work colleagues.

 

 

 

The Belfast Experience!

My first visit to Belfast – home of Titanic came on 26 July 2017 ready for delivering a MHFALite course the following day.

 

It was a ‘first’ for quiet a few things.  The first time I used the automatic bag drop – with a little help from the assistant!  A great idea but I wasn’t convinced until I saw my case role off the singular baggage carousel at George Best Belfast City Airport – phew, what a relief.

 

The next first was staying in a global brand hotel where the ‘exclusive’ experience I was expecting didn’t come to fruition.  The room was very dark with no central light.  Great if you want to work at the desk with the desk spotlight but not if, like me, preference is to sprawl on the bed with laptop, books, pens etc!  Stuffiness eventually prompted me to check out the air con – which was so noisy.  This was quickly turned off and the small window opened.  Unfortunately this overlooked the metro line and main road!  After deciding to have a cup of tea – I tried fishing the large hair out of the cup – it was a crack!  Unfortunately there were several guests who decided to have a late conversation in the corridor outside my room on the way back from the bar at midnight!!!  It seemed I’d only got to sleep when the alarm clock went off!  Good job I know how to manage stress from the training I deliver on Mental Health First Aid courses!  Breakfast was a vast improvement even if the placemat was stained!

 

MHFA Lite is a three hour course to raise awareness of mental health conditions.  It’s a light touch course.  With a room full of managers from this global financial client, what would their reaction be – did they learn anything?……

 

‘Learning that different conditions manifest themselves in different ways and how having a conversation can help highlight issues’.

‘Coping strategies to suggest to others and use myself.  I have a much better awareness of the different types of mental health problems and most importantly the scale we are all on.’

‘Being mindful of my own well-being.  There is so much help available – I hadn’t realised.  Being aware of changes in others’

‘Even though I’ve done these sort of workshops before, it refreshed and added to my knowledge’

‘Listening unconditionally and being aware of small changes’

‘I feel like I could listen and provide suitable signposting’

‘It’s important to always ask even if only a small change is noticed’

 

As an Instructor it’s always great to see the learning gained from the evaluations – part of which is about the Instructor’s delivery and knowledge!  So what were the thoughts on me….. I’m glad to say a full house of top scores!

 

‘Really really enjoyable course.  Not only excellent from a line manager’s perspective but also for my own personal experience – fantastic trainer’

 

‘Instructor was very informative with lots of examples’

 

‘Very confident Instructor who encouraged participation.  An enjoyable course, well delivered’.

 

‘A straight talking Instructor’

So overall………..

 

‘A very useful course, thank you!’

‘Excellent course – useful inside and outside work’.

 

For me, the last comment is the most important.  Mental Health affects us and those closest to us both at home and work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MHFA Lite – Introduction to Mental Health

This is a three-hour workshop comprising a foundation of knowledge on the area of Mental Health First Aid.

 

Key areas covered in this comprehensive course include:

 

  • Language & Stigma
  • What is Mental Health?
  • Some common Mental Health issues
  • Supporting people in distress
  • Personal wellbeing

 

The 17 delegates were from all levels of staff at a global professional services Firm based close to London Bridge.

 

Interaction flowed as knowledge was shared through the Graffiti Wall, Stress Container, personal experience films and colleague discussion.

 

It’s always a ‘wait with baited breath’ moment until the evaluation forms have been analysed to see how well the course and me, the instructor, were received……

 

Firstly a few thoughts on the course:

‘Amazing course, felt very emotional during the training.  Feeling more optimistic about how to approach mental health and well being’

‘A good course  which brought home the importance of caring for yourself whilst caring for others’

‘Fantastic training’

 

& The Instructor:

”Well delivered, good level of audience participation’

‘Clear and approachable, created a comfortable environment for questions’

‘Passionate & easy to follow’

Rated  very good (top mark) by 12 of the 17 and Good (second highest) by the remaining 5.

 

I look forward to the next course on 9 June 2017

 

Get in touch for more information on mental health & wellbeing training available…..

 

 

#MHAW2017

So what does Mental Health Awareness Week mean?  It’s a great idea to get people talking about mental health.  After all, the mind is just another part of the body so why do we treat it differently to physical health?

 

There are so many buzz words/phrases around including ‘Take 10 At 10’ and ‘Green Light To Talk’ –  will these ideas really make a difference for the other 51 weeks of the year?

 

I guess the answer is really down to us individuals.  Are we going to be mindful of our own wellbeing as well as those around us both at home and work or are we reverting back to ‘ignore it and it’ll go aware’?  It’s a choice we all have.

 

But where did the negativity come from?  Try making a list of neutral words to describe mental ill-health and another one for negative words.  I bet your list for negative words is a lot longer than the neutral one.  We only have to think back to our childhoods at primary school and the awful names we called each other seem to still trip off the tongue.

 

When we look to the media, historically they have been offensive towards those suffering with mental health issues and supportive to physical issues.  Headlines from when Frank Bruno was sectioned caused outraged.  Yet the same newspaper published headlines supporting Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer fight!  Why treat a physical condition any differently to a mental health one?

 

Wouldn’t it be great if we could shake off the negativity we grew up with, not be afraid of ‘what ifs’ – ‘what if I ask xxx if they’re ok?’ ‘what if I call xxx to see how they’re doing whilst off work’… we can easily talk ourselves out of not caring because of ‘what ifs’.  Maybe we need to look at this a different way.  What if we do nothing? What world do we create?  What if the next person you hear of as being mentally unwell is someone you know?  What if it’s you?

 

Let’s get talking about mental health everyday.  Make it part of our DNA both at work – in team meetings etc and at home with family and friends.  What an amazing mentally healthy world we could create if we stopped being fearful and trusted our instinct to help.

 

Go on – you have the Green Light to Talk………. and to Listen!

 

 

The Baker’s Dozen Evaluation – Adult Mental Health First Aider Training

Last week saw the delivery of MHFAEngland’s latest version of their 2-day Adult training programme in Mental Health which qualifies delegates to be First Aiders in this critical area.

 

The robust manual – heavy but yet of interesting facts, figures, resources takes the fear out of the subject.  The interactive sections – Graffiti Wall, Anxiety Face, Stress Container and Depression T-Shirt were well received.  The films brought home the key points.

 

So, what did the 13 managers from the private sector think of giving up two days to do this course?

 

Almost an even split on the question ‘As a result of the training, I am less likely to judge people with mental health issues negatively’ – 7 strongly agreed.  The 6 remaining Agreed.  So – some hearts and minds were definitely changed!

 

‘As a result of this training, I am more likely to consider mental health and mental ill health a normal part of everyday life’ – bigger shift here – 10 strongly agreed and remaining three agreed.

 

‘How would you rate the MHFA course’? – 100% rated it top marks with’ Very Good’.

 

As the Instructor – I’m very pleased to see 100% of the delegates gave me top marks  of ‘Very Good’!

 

Some general comments included:

 

‘Excellent’!’

‘Really well delivered course.  Feel like I’ve learnt plenty to take away and implement’

‘The course and its delivery was excellent – thank you’.

‘Extremely useful – sharing tools and giving confidence’

‘Excellent course.   I would like to see it rolled out to all managers’

 

If you have a business and want to upskill your employees in the field of mental health, why not get in touch to discuss how?

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