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First aid in mental health

22 November 2019

Birmingham City University has successfully trialled a peer support project that champions mental health first aiders - MHFA - to help stem mental health crises.  

Birmingham City University has successfully trialled a peer support project that champions mental health first aiders - MHFA - to help stem& mental health crises in higher education.

Concerns over the rise in mental health problems of undergraduate students, alongside the lack of provision in mental health and counselling services, have led to this original response from the psychology department at Birmingham City University.

The course is an adaptation of a physical first aid training course, and proposes a first point of contact to help students with a mental health problem or crisis.

The first aiders are taught how to recognise mental distress in their peers, provide sensitive and timely signposting to professional services and, in some cases, suggest appropriate self care strategies.

The programme has been designed and implemented by Dr Amy Cook, Dr Helen Egan and Dr Michael Mantzios and has been embedded into the training of undergraduate psychology students.

The project helps the students to develop their competency and build on their personal development before they progress on to more practice based or clinical postgraduate studies.

Some students use their MHFA training while they are working on placements, and recently over 50 schools in the West Midlands have shown interest in rolling out this programme across the region.

In a recent paper, Dr Michael Mantzios said that there is a real opportunity to influence public health through MHFA training in universities.

Listen to the experiences of two of the mental health first aiders - Laura Gee and Laura Fogarty - at Birmingham City University.

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