A couple of months ago I heard about the Mental Health MotorCycle initiative. It’s an organisation in the UK run by some great people, who are looking at ways to help bikers with mental health issues they might have. To assist in this, they work with Mental Health First Aid England to provide their 2 Day Mental Health First Aider training course.
Like its namesake, it’s designed to help non-medical people recognise those experiencing mental health issues, and teaches you to provide some kind of support until people with more knowledge and experience can assist.
I’ve just completed the remote version of the course, made up of four Zoom based classes on four days, spread over two weeks. It’s based on a manual to read portions of (I had the online version), and a workbook to make notes in and review case studies to review as part of the class.
My class was made up of about 12 students, and led by an excellent instructor, Andy Elwood. Andy has quite a mental health story of his own, but I don’t want to go into that here – absolutely go to his site and see for yourself. He’s definitely the kind of person you want in your corner on a topic like this.
I’m never going to do the course justice in a blog post, but believe me, it was incredibly helpful, even when going into some deep and heavy subjects like suicide and psychosis. It covers a lot of ground, but the manual is really helpful and well constructed.
A core component is the ALGEE model, which frames and discusses five-steps people can use in assisting those in need:
A – Approach – assess for crisis (Approach, Assess and Assist).
L – Listen – listen and communicate non judgementally.
G – Give – give support and information – not advice!
E – Encourage – encourage appropriate professional help such as EAP.
E – Encourage – encourage other support such as family, friend, comminuty, groups.
Once you complete the four sessions and the online homework, you can pass and get your certificate of being a Mental Health First Aider.
I’d definitely encourage anyone to take the course – not just to help others, it can also really help yourself, by educating yourself and apply a mental health eye in that direction. Cost-wise it’s around 220GBP, and since it’s based in the UK, it’s done on UK time – the sessions start at 18:00 GMT, meaning for me in Japan they ran from 4am! I have to say that the other participants were all friendly and smart people, creating a relaxed atmosphere, and it made the 2.5hour sessions, even at that early hour, just fly by, which is always a sign in itself.
All told, give it a go. I think you’ll benefit.