I’m writing this from a crowded train after an exhilarating ride through London’s busy streets. Unfortunate to have a training course in the middle of a strike but actually my enforced ride on a “Boris Bike” was a good way to process the past two days.
Regular readers will know that I’m qualifying as a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer. We’ve just completed module two. The format for these days is that we each present to our fellow trainees on a specified subject. The idea is to share a lot of underpinning knowledge because not every aspirant trainer will have extensive mental health knowledge. Also it allows our assessors to see how we facilitate a group.
I don’t think anybody knew what to expect. Not least as our facilitation experience varied wildly.
What we got was a masterclass. Not just in terms of the quality of content which was universally excellent, (informative and thought provoking too) but more in terms of the sheer variety of styles employed. We had everything from PowerPoint to Prezi, flipcharts to fun games. There were listening exercises, quizzes and films. People explored statistics by voting with their feet. We even got to make a poster (superb choice by the trainer closing out day 2 as energy was flagging).
There are only a handful of us on the course who would describe the bulk of their work as a trainer but everyone really took on the challenge to make the content come alive, exploring new and unusual angles on by now familiar topics.
The MHFA course has to be more prescriptive by the nature of it being a nationally standardised course with a certificate. However these two days have shown just how creative you can be when approaching some pretty tough topics – could you make a session on psychosis or suicide an engaging uplifting experience? My colleagues certainly did.
In two weeks time we have to deliver a chunk of the full course to our peers, a daunting task in prospect but tonight, I’m just going to let my mind rest and process an amazing two days.
Tomorrow is Time to Talk Day and I urge you to start a conversation with someone around mental health – yours or theirs – I don’t mind which.
P.S. My first course for MHFA is now booked out but we are hoping to set one up for May. Please contact me through the normal channels to be kept informed.