We spoke to Carolyn Cole about why she decided to become a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor
What first motivated you to become a mental health first aider?
I became a MHFA four years ago and was motivated from a personal and professional basis. From a personal basis like most people, I have met on the training I have close friends and family that live with mental health conditions. From a professional basis I was seeing an increasing number of colleagues experiencing poor mental health or caring for someone outside of work that was living with mental health. I did not feel equipped to support my colleagues with the limited knowledge I had at the time so went about researching how I could develop skills to not only understand more about mental health conditions, but what I could do to help. I came across MHFA England and enrolled in a two-day course, and everything developed from there.
How did you make the move into being a MHFA instructor?
I had been a MHFA for four years and after moving into the Construction industry started doing a lot of work internally to raise awareness around mental health and how we can support our colleagues. I was shocked to see the statistics that two construction workers complete suicide every day and felt passionately about doing my part towards changing that statistic. The Lighthouse Club charity was offering to sponsor colleagues that work in the construction industry to become instructors and I applied and was accepted onto the training earlier this year. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to gain further training and understanding and then take that back into CTS and share it with my colleagues. I have already trained a further 19 colleagues this year to be MHFA.
Why should others consider taking the course or getting involved?
The MHFA course is not like a usual training course as it covers some really tough topics. I would encourage anyone that is interested to find out more and really consider how it can help them not only in the workplace but also in their personal lives. General education around mental health is limited and the MHFA course and MH Aware courses can really help with not only knowledge and understanding, but also the language that we use and how we can all help break down stigma and have really good conversations. It also ensures that you review how you look after yourself which is as important as supporting others. As a business we do a lot of work around mental health so there are many other ways to get involved such as fundraising which we recently completed for Mental Health Awareness Week, as well as training.
Key message that you want to share with people.
We should take mental health as seriously as physical health.
We all have mental health, and we should all take the time to look after it. We always think about physical health, but it is just health, and we should see it as a whole. I would encourage curiosity as we do not speak about mental health openly and honestly enough and this promotes a lack of awareness and understanding. If you do not understand or know something, just ask, things can only improve with greater knowledge.