Shortly after the pandemic, I was resettling, getting back into the routine of going into work, sitting on empty trains, and having meetings with masks on. Having spent the majority of lockdown confined to my desk at home, it was a relief to be out and about again. Reflecting on lockdown, I remember having my own mental health issues arise from it, as well as my family’s. Then I remembered it felt good to be able to share my problems with other members of staff at Thera North and the Development team, as I realised, they had gone through the same thing as me. So when they asked me to become a Mental Health First Aider, I jumped at the chance.
I wanted to help people as much as I could. I also saw the many opportunities it had given me to speak to people after the pandemic. As a Service Quality Director, I felt I had lost the relationships I had before, as I could no longer visit people in their homes and have chats about how they are doing. Instead, now I have a better relationship with the people we support. I find I am having more conversations with them on the phone and texting them often. I often find that I am giving advice and support unconsciously after taking this course, as I am constantly helping people we support and staff members. I would really love people to know that they can ring me at any chance for a chat and I will help as much as I can.
The course that I went through taught me lots about myself and my own mental health. It allowed me to open up and talk about my issues, as well as listening to others. By reflecting on my own personal experience, it was easier to acquire the tools to start helping other people. I also found I can talk to other people about my mental health, as other MHFA members are there for each other in support. I am still in contact with the people that took the training with me, as we share our experience of the training. The course went on over a certain amount of weeks, it was so helpful and I took away a lot from the sessions.
I now find that I am getting to know people better, and I know where to point people in the right direction if they get stuck. It is such a good thing to know you can help, and to be more open on the subject, as you are helping others and being honest with your own battles. I would like to encourage people across the board to take these courses, especially after our experience of what’s happened recently. I would especially encourage people with a lived experience of a learning disability to apply, as it gives you the tools necessary to really listen to people and provides guidance for yourself.