Alden Arnold, project manager at the Association of Event Venues, on his experience completing the mental health first aider course.
Our Cross-Association Event Industry HR group has a long-term objective to address mental health awareness, and wellbeing of its people within the industry.
As a result, the group built a relationship with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England —and after a session introducing mental health first aid to the group, 16 members attended MHFA’s Champion training whilst the group vice chair, the director of finance hr & admin for the Event Industry Alliance and I all attended the two-day first aider course.
Why did I want to go on the course?
I believe I am able to manage my own reactions to the realities of mental health and be able to provide comfort for those experiencing times of trouble. My own life has been filled with the ups and downs most have probably experienced at some point (bullying, anxiety, stress and loss) and I have found ways to cope with the stresses and trauma life can bring.
More importantly, I care. I care about my own mental health but also that of the colleagues family I work with day after day – beyond recognising the importance of mental well-being in the workplace, I genuinely have regard for the people I see more often than even my own family, and I know what it is like to go through some challenges that others may face. However, I wanted to gain a structural method of training to be able to provide the correct first aid to whoever may require it.
What was my experience of the course?
Two days of on-point, structured training; delivered extremely slickly with brilliant pastoral care. The topics covered for some could be close to home and the course leader always had that in mind and would check to see if we were all okay. In other words, it was expertly led.
The supporting and inclusive atmosphere made everyone welcome. By the end of day two we all had shared a unique learning experience. Collectively, through personal experiences, presentations, group discussions and workshop activities, we gained practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues; we enhanced our own interpersonal skills, and given the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress.
The course manual provided and action plan taught is a great source of continual reference. I consider it an honour to have been nominated to attend the training on behalf of my colleagues.
By doing this, we are able to encourage colleagues to access support when needed and empower colleagues, who may have a long-term mental health issue or disability, to thrive at work. We can stop preventable health issues arising by building supportive, open cultures around mental health and embed a positive long-term change across our organisations.
We all now know that we work for an organisation that has a culture for care which gives us all a head start.