Day 516

Developed in Australia in 2000 and now internationally recognised in 23 countries, the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, provide help on a first aid basis and effectively guide someone towards the right support services.

To date over 1200 instructors have been trained in England who have delivered the MHFA courses to over 100,000 people. I am one of the instructors for young people and I hope to deliver my first course soon.

Facts:

– Three quarters of all adult mental health problems start before 18
– 1 in 4 people have mental ill-health
– 1 in 5 primary school children have a mental health illness before the age of 11
– 300,000 children in Britain have an anxiety disorder
– Significant increase in young people being given anti-depressants
– Mentally ill children are being treated on adult psychiatric wards – last year 391 were admitted
– 90% of young people experiencing a mental health issue have experienced stigma and discrimination as a result
– Stress at school is the biggest contribution to depression, self-harm and attempted suicide in young people
– Nearly 100 children aged 10 to 14 died by suicide in the last decade.

The course helps us spot the early signs of a mental health problem in young people and confidently offer them help. This may prevent the problem from getting worse and enable faster recovery. We also learn to protect a young person who might be at risk of harm.

It is inevitable that  poor mental health undermines educational attainment (Department for Education 2015 performance tables). The Youth Council recommended in 2015 that there be mandatory minimum training for teachers on young people’s mental health.

When Saagar was in primary school, he was bullied. When I mentioned this to his then class teacher, her first reaction was denial. She did not know what to do about it. Even the head-mistress had no idea how to deal with the problem. There was denial all around.

That, like many other things has to change.

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