Paramedic Graham Clark explains why he feels Mental Health First Aid training is a must for healthcare workers on the frontline and in management.
Graham Clark is a paramedic in the NHS ambulance service and Chair of the Diversity Steering Group for the College of Paramedics.
He recently completed an online Mental Health First Aid training course with Andy Elwood.
Here, he shares why he feels this training is so important for those working in healthcare, whether as line managers supporting staff or those with roles at the coalface…
What has the MHFA course given you in addition to your knowledge and experience as a healthcare professional?
It’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve been very vocal about how helpful it’s been to me as a manager in the NHS supporting staff and also for my own clinical development as someone who attends patients who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
During my initial clinical training, I received nowhere near as much education in mental health as I learned by taking the MHFA course.
My paramedic training was about understanding the relevant mental health acts and legal aspects that apply when attending someone going through a crisis. In total it amounted to around half-a-day of training, and yet poor mental health is a huge percentage of our workload.
If every paramedic had to go through this course, the country would be in a much better place in terms of mental health emergencies.
Why did you personally want to do the training?
I wanted to better my understanding of the different types of mental health illnesses and crises to help me when I attend patients who may be experiencing these.
I also wanted to increase my knowledge so I can better support friends and family and so that I can be better equipped as a manager to support staff who may be struggling.
How did you find the course and Andy as a trainer?
It was brilliant. It’s a really well-developed course and delivered in a relaxed learning setting.
Andy is just a really nice guy, he’s there when you need him and comes across as someone you’d want around when you are experiencing a difficult time.
Some of the videos shown during the course definitely had an impact on me. I also took away some really good one-line responses that Andy gave us which are really good to use when someone is in front of you and you’re trying to show that you understand them and not say the wrong thing.
What would you say to someone thinking about doing MHFA training?
Give yourself plenty of time, make sure what you are doing in your life at that time gives you the capacity to give the course your attention. Choose the timing of the training well so that you can really absorb all the information on offer.
Would you recommend other healthcare professionals do their MHFA training with Andy?
Yes, 100%. Andy is a great facilitator. I’ve taken part in a lot of virtual courses over the past couple of years and it’s one of the smoothest delivered courses I’ve done.
I’m part of a group that’s looking at how we recruit managers into the ambulance service, and I believe we should be expecting managers to have completed this course. I’ve also asked my service if we can put managers through this training.
Every paramedic and manager, or anyone that deals with mental health emergencies, should be expected to do this training.
The ambulance service has so many staff members facing mental health issues, mainly stress and anxiety, and we attend so many mental health emergencies, that it makes this training a no-brainer for me.
How would you rate Andy as a trainer?
Become a Mental Health First Aider – click here to see upcoming courses or email chinwag@AndyElwood.com about running a private course in your organisation.
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