Recently introduced by Fife College, Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) course has been helping give staff the confidence to support students that may be experiencing a mental health problem.

Delivered by the College’s Health and Wellbeing Adviser, John Blakey, the two-day training course has already proved popular with upcoming sessions booking up quickly.    

Yvonne Davidson, Hair and Beauty Lecturer, based at the College’s Dunfermline Campus, was one of the first to undertake the course, alongside Hair and Beauty colleagues.

Yvonne’s team found out about the course after a number of them attended a mental health taster session at a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) day. 

Initially a little nervous, Yvonne and her team found the course a great help.  Yvonne said: 

“We found the taster session really interesting and it prompted us to find out more about the two-day course.  I was a wee bit apprehensive because it can be quite a strong, emotive subject so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but all went along with open minds. 

“The course was absolutely brilliant! John was very good with us, let us take the material at our own pace and explained everything very well.” 

Yvonne believes the course has given her a clearer understanding of mental health issues which has enabled her to approach situations with confidence.       

“The course gave us a better understanding about why people feel the way the might feel.  It showed us how to look out for warning signs too, allowing us to help at an earlier stage and not to be scared to approach and offer that help.

“Since the course, I’ve had a few situations which have arose with students and I’ve felt a lot more confident in tackling them having done the course.

“I really think everyone should do the course. Having completed the two days, it has definitely helped me professionally and personally.”   

SMHFA training is a national programme delivered over 12 hours to give people the confidence to respond to a person in distress or experiencing a mental health problem.

Like first aid courses on physical issues, mental health first aid is designed to provide comfort and preserve life until appropriate or professional help arrives - or the crisis is resolved.

John Blakey, Health and Wellbeing Advisor at Fife College, said: “The feedback to the course here at the College has been really positive. 

“Those who come along get a real overview of what people are facing and hopefully they go away with an understanding, in a clear and tangible way, of what they can do to support people, even if it is just small things.”