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Paula Power, Bath College’s new Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor

 

Bath College will be running brand new First Aid courses dealing specifically with Mental Health, starting in October 2019. These courses will be run by qualified Mental Health First Aid instructors, and accredited by Mental Health First Aid England. Everyone has mental health, and better mental health is better for all of us, this is why MHFA England are dedicated to ensuring there is zero stigma to discussing mental health.

 

Paula is one of our new Mental Health First Aid Instructors, specialising in Adult Mental Health First Aid. We did a short Q&A with her to find out why she chose to become an instructor and why she thinks Mental Health First Aid is so important.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am the business owner of My White Dog and facilitator for the 1 and 2-day adult and youth courses. I am a MHFA Instructor, NLP Practitioner, Mountain Leader, with Business Studies, Further Education Certificate and Social Science at the Open University.
I started out in a corporate environment, but always enjoyed adventure and outdoor space, climbing, mountaineering and sailing. When I realised the positive impact of my own wellbeing in this space, I went onto develop skills in education and mountaineering and led groups in the outdoors including expeditions to Africa and Asia. A rewarding role watching students age 13-18 develop latent and new skills when stretched, build resilience, team and leadership skills. I went onto explore other personal challenges when selected to take part in the first all women expedition to the geographic North Pole in 1997. 20 women relaying in teams of 4 across the arctic over 3 months. We went onto become Guinness book record holders.
I ocassionally work in partnership with Wiltshire MIND and am affiliated with Mental Health First Aid England on raising mental health awareness, reducing stigma and how to improve wellbeing in work schools and communities.

 

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health is part of our overall health, physical and mental wellbeing. Mental Health First Aid approach is similar to physical first aid, in preserving life and preventing a condition worsening, promoting recovery; however, as mental health is not easy to identify, it can be more complex to recognise, we teach the skills to recognise signs and symptoms. We explore language stigma, listening skills, and then how to signpost in order to help and provide hope for the future. We also explore strategies and coping strategies for our own wellbeing. Our approach is interactive engaging using group activities, various mediums, video and plenary speakers (lived experiences).

 

Why do you think Mental Health First Aid is important?

Currently, 1 in 4 adults will experience some form of mental health issue in their lifetime. The economic cost of mental health issues in England are estimated at £105 billion each year. In addition, 10% of primary school children suffer from a low sense of wellbeing and about 13% of young people aged 5-19 meet clinical criteria for a mental health disorder. Mental health first aid is a great early intervention towards professional help, for example, people can fully recovery from their first episode of psychosis if they receive the appropriate help.

 

How did you get into Mental Health First Aid Facilitation?

From my own personal experience of mental illness within my family – I recognise the impact of early intervention and an opportunity to close a significant gap within the Mental Health support system.

 

Who do you think will benefit from Mental Health First Aid?

Everyone will benefit as it opens channels of communication, it empowers others to reduce stigma and discrimination and raises awareness in the workplace, communities and schools.

 

Finally, what has been your favourite part of leading these courses?

Thought provoking and light bulb moments. Many people have come to me at the end of a course realising that awareness is the ‘tip of the iceberg’, but they feel confident going forward. It’s a journey and learning takes place in a safe and inclusive environment – many delegates go on to become advocates within work and communities

 

 

If Paula has inspired you and you’re interested in enrolling on a Mental Health First Aid course you can find them by clicking here.

News

Exam success for dedicated Adult Community Learning Student

 

When Sandie, shown here second from left with some of her ACL classmates,  came for an initial assessment of her English skills in April 2017 her confidence was quite low. She joined an ACL group but didn’t manage to stay – life got in the way

 

However, she didn’t give up, and neither did the ACL team. Sandie was encouraged to join a new English group in September, and she flourished.  ACL offer Ascentis Certificates in English and Maths;  the qualification is broken down into small achievable Awards,  6 in total for English, learners take the qualification when they feel ready for it and their confidence grows with each assessment they pass.

 

Sandie passed the full Level 2 English Certificate ; the next step was Functional Skills. This is a bigger challenge for many adult learners, the exams are more formal, and bring back negative memories of school. Sandie was worried about failure and was adamant that she would start on Level 1. However, within a few weeks she agreed to move up to Level 2.

 

Sandie, along with the rest of her group, worked incredibly hard to get to grips with the unfamiliar terminology and exam strategies required for Functional Skills. One of her biggest fears was giving a presentation, but with a supportive group of learners around her, she succeeded. Her writing skills developed and she began to understand what was required to pass the reading exam.  The result? Sandie has achieved the highest mark in Level 2 writing in the entire college: 28/30. If ever we needed evidence of how important self-confidence and a supportive atmosphere is to learning, we only have to look to Sandie.

 

 

Bath College Adult Community Learning provides a wide range of courses intended for those who want to improve their chances to find work, support their families or live independently. The Adult Community Learning courses are a fantastic way to build your confidence, and you can make some great friends, find a supportive community and learn new skills along the way. There is such a vast range of courses, from short courses in confidence building, computer skills or CV workshops; to Community Love2Learn Vocational courses, aimed at providing a foundation for a career change, such as Bricklaying, Plastering and Stonemasonry.  They are also free, provided you are eligible. You can find out more about Bath College’s Adult Community Learning provision by clicking here. You can sign up to receive the Adult Community learning monthly newsletter, which contains the details of new courses, by clicking here.

 

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