1 in 4 people suffer a mental health issue each year in the UK

That's a lot of people. With this in mind, I spent the two days completing the Mental Health First Aider course. (Certainly a worthwhile and great use of time, that I would highly recommend).

Presently 1 in 40 people in the UK have taken a mental health awareness course. In contrast to the point above - that doesn't seem that many people does it?


However much the topic of mental health appears in the news, people need support on ground, locally; either at work, in our community or within our friends and family.

In light of the potential long term impact of the lock downs caused by Covid and the potential sense of isolation or loneliness as more people work from home, being aware of our own, and others, mental health seems all the more important.

By taking the time to do the course I am now more equipped to support those that are feeling vulnerable and maybe struggling with their mental health.

A few observations

  • 6/9 attendees on the course were men

Hopefully this shows that as men, we are more ready and willing to talk about mental health and support others in a non judgemental, compassionate way.

  • Ask 3 times how someone is feeling

It really does help and make a difference to someone if they are asked in a gentle, yet persistent way; enabling a conversation to start. It's not likely to be an easy conversation, but will be a very important one.

  • Walking the walk

Being informed gives me the tools to support and help people stay in a positive place, so they can live a more happy and fulfilled life. It will also help me be aware of my own mental health.

  • Learning (whatever the subject matter) is one of the 5 pillars of wellbeing.

Having completed the course, I certainly feel the lens that view others and myself has changed; which is in itself a good thing.

5 Tips in supporting someone with a mental health issue

  • Find the right time to chat

Find a place that is private and helps put the person at ease. Rather than sitting down 'face to face' may be go for walk, do something that can also provide a distraction.

  • Ask how they feel

There are many different forms of mental health issues someone may be going through from anxiety, stress to depression, eating disorders or self harm. Asking how a person feels can start to signpost what they are struggling with at that time.

  • Be an active listener

Don't try to solve the challenges the person is describing to you. Listen, ask open ended questions and support without judgement. Empathise not sympathise. Ask open ended questions, allow for silences and summarise you believe has been said.

  • Check in again

Follow up your conversation again with the person to see how they are getting on.

  • Be patient

You may hear 'the same thing' a few times. Continue listening. Having the conversation is the first step in addressing the issues the person may be going through.

The main point is that starting the conversation is an important step for a person to acknowledge that they may be struggling with a mental health issue. As a first aider, I believe my role is to support a person at the initial point and then assist them in finding the relevant support to address the issue that causing the ill health.

If anyone in my network wants a chat, please do contact me.