11 September 2018

At YMCA Derbyshire, 18 staff members have recently completed a two-day ‘Youth Mental Health First Aid’ course, focused around how to recognise the symptoms and signs of common mental health issues and help in a moment of need.

The course aims to support young people aged 8-18 by ‘listening, reassuring and responding’. Based on the first aid model – the first responders to physical injury – Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) is the mental health equivalent. Staff were taught how to “effectively guide a person towards the right support, be that self-help or professional services.”

Individuals who participated in the training represented a wide range of roles at YMCA Derbyshire, with the premise that mental health should be treated as a normal part of life, in the same way as physical health. According to MHFA, 56% of the public say they have experienced a mental health issue, and 90% still feel there is a taboo around mental health.

One staff member who undertook the training, said: “This was a helpful reminder of how difficult it can be for young people to navigate the modern world. It was useful to understand how to signpost to other local services and how to support a young person to take proactive steps to have healthy conversations around mental health”  

Julia Hodder, Head of Training & Education and Family Services at YMCA Derbyshire, said: “The aim of offering this course to staff was to improve their understanding of mental health. While the national conversation around mental health is much more open than ever before this training helps all of us to respond effectively to the signs of mental health problems in others”

YMCA Derbyshire manages several projects and programmes linked to improving mental health across the county. For instance, in support of the NHS and YMCA England & Wales #IAMWHOLE campaign, which seeks to challenge the negative stereotypical view of mental health, a Community Orchard was opened earlier this year. More than 20 residents were engaged in the project, learning new skills in the process, which has had a positive impact on their overall health, wellbeing and prospects for the future. In addition, every month, YMCA Derbyshire hosts a free Community Meal in collaboration with local mental health charity Head High. Held on the last Friday of each month, the Meals offer a welcoming space and nourishing food, as well as the chance to forge strong connections and improve mental health.