MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AIDER Course with MHFA England (Jan – Feb 2024)

I had the good fortune of opting to attend a Mental Health First Aider course offered by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England to Muslimah Sports Association (MSA); a leading organization in promoting sports and wellbeing for women in London. MHFA England aim to train 1 in 10 people in mental health awareness and skills via this MHFAider course to address this much needed intervention for general health of people.

My decision has paid off and I am happy to have had the opportunity to finish this insightful course successfully along with learning from participants’ experiences and life stories.

The course content was essential and relevant, covered in intensive, interactive sessions which were enjoyable and engaging, made so by the friendly and thorough course lead.

There was plenty of time given for reflection and to share stories and experiences in a secure, supportive and understanding environment with freedom of stepping out at any time if the content made anyone uncomfortable.

Topics touched upon were stress, anxiety, depression, self-care and wellbeing, mental ill health, factors affecting mental health, inequalities and facts and figures, access to relevant resources, stigmas, traumatic events, eating disorders, self-harm, substance misuse and most importantly recovery, to name a few.

While traversing the content, we did in-depth analyses of a number of scenarios and situations, in case studies, to better gauge how events, actions, words, in fact life and its challenges affect our mental health and how do different people cope with these using various mechanisms, strategies, practices and habits. This involved being aware of first our own wellbeing and mental health and then assessing situations presented, approaching and assisting wherever possible with providing a safe environment for self and others, listening attentively and patiently with empathy, maintaining and ensuring trust and confidentiality, giving support and information and encouraging contact with professional organizations, family and friends to mitigate the risk and diffuse the crisis if any. We learned how to act as a first point of contact and provide initial help until the professionals arrived and/or signpost to relevant sources.

All in all, this course enriched my perception and worldly view. Realization of the plethora of peoples’ struggles and coping journeys was a humbling experience. I now feel better equipped to engage with people around me in a more aware and confident manner, with the knowledge to aid and assist, communicating a positive impact on the community and society. I have also been given access to a wide range of helpful resources including professional and community bodies for accessing and signposting to. I would actively encourage everyone to get involved and do this course for their own wellbeing and as a means to becoming beneficial to people around them.

By Khudeja Razi

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