Larne residents given chance to learn ‘Mental Health First Aid’

Free 'Mental Health First Aid' training being offered in Larne by AWARE.
Free 'Mental Health First Aid' training being offered in Larne by AWARE.

AWARE, the national depression charity for Northern Ireland is offering free Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to people in and around Larne.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is open to all members of the community, particularly those from professional groups including health workers, teachers, front line public sector and voluntary sector workers as well as members of the general public.

Any interested person can attend and for those interested, the next Mental Health First Aid courses will take place at Ledcom, Willowbank Business Park, Millbrook, Larne on Wednesday and Thursday, April 19 and 20.

MHFA teaches participants how to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help, and how to go about guiding a person towards appropriate professional help.

Topics covered include, what is meant by mental health and mental ill health; dealing with crisis situations such as suicidal behaviour, self-harm, panic attacks and acute psychotic behaviour; recognising the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and substance use disorders; where and how to get help and the various self-help strategies a person can take when they are feeling low.

AWARE’s Education and Training Officer, Catherine McColgan said: “Mental Health First Aid is very important as professional help is not always immediately available when a person is in crisis, and sometimes a person is unable to think clearly and may not realise they need help or that effective help is available.

“It is so valuable to have community members trained up to be able to support each other, as earlier intervention can greatly reduce the risk of a deepening mental health crisis.

“Reaching out to someone in need helps to destigmatise mental illness and encourage individuals to seek help rather than suffer in isolation.

“Lots of people are trained up on First Aid training but fewer in Mental Health First Aid.

“This is your opportunity to make a difference and learn how to help someone in a mental health crisis,” she said.

Catherine has a word for those unsure about attending: “It’s not all depressing talking about depression!

“We have an immense amount of fun on this programme and use lots of different techniques to explore the issues with sensitivity and honesty, while keeping the tone light enough for you to actually absorb the learning.”

AWARE’s Northern Ireland offices can be called for more information - Belfast 028 9035 7820 and Derry/Londonderry 7126 0602.