25 Jan 2018

In a pioneering move, West London Mental Health NHS Trust has teamed up with its One You Ealing service and Mental Health First Aid to provide valuable mental health first aid training to staff from local MPs’ constituency offices.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is an educational course aimed at individuals who are not from a clinical background. It teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, MHFA teaches how to recognise crucial warning signs of mental ill health.

Following a series of discussions between Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive of West London Mental Health NHS Trust, and local elected representatives, the Trust offered to host a bespoke training event, aimed at addressing some of the learning needs of the staff working closely with MPs on constituents’ concerns.

One You Ealing, led by West London Mental Health NHS Trust, delivers a range of public health and wellbeing services to Ealing residents, including help to give up smoking and improve physical fitness. Ealing Council commissioned the Trust to include  MHFA among the range of services it provides in the borough, following the award of additional funds from Health Education North West London in 2017.

By the end of the course, participants can:

  • Identify the discrimination surrounding mental health issues
  • Define mental health & some common mental health issues
  • Relate to people’s experiences
  • Help support people with mental health problems
  • Look after their own mental health

Participants do not require any qualifications or experience in or of mental health to take part.

Staff in MPs’ constituency offices often support constituents who are in distress, dealing with mental health challenges, or having difficulties with aspects of NHS care.

Louisa Ware is a Caseworker based in Andy Slaughter Constituency Office in Hammersmith and delivers advice and support to members of the public living in the local area by phone, email and in face to face advice sessions. Louisa said:

“The course was an informative and insightful day, expanding our knowledge of mental health and improving our approach to working with constituents who may be experiencing problems with their mental health.”

Becky Moore, Andy Slaughter MP’s Constituency Manager said:

“The whole team were keen to gain MHFA training and I would wholeheartedly recommend the course for any organisation that regularly deals with members of the public. MHFA training was not just helpful in improving the service we provide but also in supporting colleagues at work. This was a welcome surprise given the emotionally demanding nature of our work at the Constituency Office.”

Dr Christopher Hilton, Director of Business and Strategy and Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at West London Mental Health NHS Trust, hosted the recent training event and provided staff with information about the wide range of services delivered for patients with mental health needs in our area. He said:

“First aid training at work is taken as standard, but we don’t take the same view for mental health first aid training and we should.

“Regardless of a person’s background, we know that mental health is more complex than being easily sorted into simply well and unwell. People with mental health issues come into contact with a range of services, including constituency offices and supporting constituency staff to have the right skills means people are more likely to get pointed in the direction of the right care, when they need it.”

The Trust hopes to offer an ongoing programme of as part of One You Ealing’s Mental Health First Aid provision.