Why I'm a Mental Health First Aider and why you should become one too


Hello, I'm Stephen Hill. I'm a User Experience (UX) designer here at the NHSBSA and I’m currently working on a digital transformation project that helps users to apply online for help with their NHS costs.

On the 6th and 7th June, myself and 10 other colleagues from the NHSBSA attended a two day training course to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA).

The aim being to arm ourselves with the relevant knowledge and skills to be able to spot someone who is developing a mental health issue and intervene before it has the potential to escalate further. We aren't here to treat or diagnose any condition - instead we are here to listen and offer guidance and support.

So.. why is this important?

Well... when we get a cold, most of us don’t hesitate to take a few tablets or if it becomes really bad, visit the doctor. But what about our own mental health? Do people treat it like they do their physical well-being and get help? Sadly the answer is still no.

However in many ways, our mental health is just like our physical health; everybody has it and we need to make sure that we take care of it.

If you don't know this by now - life isn't simple. As much as we might all like it to be! In today's modern world there are often lumps and bumps in the road and what might be water off a duck's back to one person, can be enough to overwhelm another.

A good visual representation of this is what Mental Health First Aid England imaginatively call the "Stress Container". Everybody's stress container is different - some large, some small.

Finding helpful coping strategies rather than unhelpful coping strategies to 'empty the stress' out of our container is a must. If we don't - the container overflows and this is when problems start to develop.

I’ve seen first-hand just how important it was to have someone there with a comforting word or two. However, some people aren’t as lucky as me. Therefore I am determined to give the same support and guidance to anyone who needs it, while encouraging others to considering becoming a MHFA too.

Even if you think it isn’t for you – always remember – someone you meet could be fighting a battle you’re not aware of, so always be kind. It’s that simple.

As well as having a network of trained MHFA, NHSBSA has also partnered with Samaritans as one of our two corporate charity partners this year. We’ve pledged to raise £30,000 to help Samaritans be there for anyone that’s struggling to cope and make sure fewer people die by suicide.

This month, our colleagues dusted off their trainers  to take part in Samarathon, running, jogging or walking the distance of 26.2 miles over July to help raise awareness of Samaritans and the life-saving work they do. If you’d like to support us to reach our fundraising target, you can donate here.

Finally, I'll leave you with this surprising statistic from the training course:

Did you know that in 2017 more people took their own lives in Great Britain (5,487), than died as a result of a road traffic accident (1,720)? MFA England, 2017. 

So remember, whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123.