Courses in Mental Health First Aid Training are to be offered around the country for the first time.
Over 1.5 million people in 21 countries have received the training – which is the initial help offered a person who is developing a mental health problem, or who is in crisis.
In the UK, the NHS saw a dramatic decrease in days lost to unplanned mental health absence after employees underwent the training.
Director of Mental Health First Aid Ireland Dolores Keating, on the conversation many of us have when we’re worried about a friend or colleague.
So far, about 1000 people here have had MHFA training – and now the course is being rolled out nationwide.
Project manager of MHFA Ireland Donal Scanlan explains what the training does; “Recognising the signs of when someone is having a mental health problem, it is not about telling people what to do, it is about encouraging them, supporting them in that moment, how to get them to appropriate mental health or other supports, family, friends, voluntary groups, charity groups.
He says the training is also about challenging the conversation around mental illness; “The more people who have the confidence to actually ask that question, are you alright, and not just accept the 'I'm fine,' or 'I'm grand' as we say in Ireland alot, and to be able to feel confident to ask 'are you really alright?' and 'look I'm here for you,' and just sit back and listen.”
Staff at UK organisations including the BBC, WH Smith, Arsenal and Chelsea have taken the training.
Kara McCann from employers group IBEC says while there has been stigma around mental illness in the past, it’s changing and Junior Minister Helen McEntee says she’d like to see the programme get government funding.