The Importance of Refreshing Mental Health First Aid Skills: Sustaining Readiness and Impact

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Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an invaluable program that equips individuals with the knowledge and skills to provide initial support to someone experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health problem. MHFAiders play a crucial role in creating mentally healthy workplaces. However, as with any acquired skill, regular upskilling and revision is essential to maintain readiness and ensure optimal support. MHFAiders are required to attend refresher training three years after their original course dates to ensure currency, but there can be huge benefits to boosting skills and knowledge prior to this.

The risk in assuming a three-yearly refresher for MHFA will be enough

Failing to refresh MHFA skills can result in outdated knowledge and skills may result in less effective support for individuals experiencing mental health challenges. MHFAiders may miss crucial warning signs, provide outdated information, or employ ineffective strategies, potentially exacerbating the situation. A lack of updated training may contribute to a decline in confidence and self-efficacy among MHFAiders, leading to hesitation or uncertainty when responding to crises. This can hinder the delivery of timely and appropriate support, potentially impacting the well-being of those seeking help.

Evidence evolves

Although the foundations of MHFA have remained solid for the past 23 years since the course was created, The field of mental health is continually evolving, and new research, best practices, and interventions emerge regularly. By boosting knowledge, participants stay updated on the latest information, ensuring their responses align with current evidence-based approaches. This knowledge refreshment enables MHFAiders to provide accurate and effective support, incorporating the most relevant strategies and resources available.

Enhancing Confidence and Competence, and adapting to change:

Regular training and skill refreshments boost confidence and competence among MHFAiders. Participants often leave a course feeling inspired and ready to apply their new skills, only to find after having these conversations in the ‘real world’ they have knowledge gaps and questions. Booster sessions allow participants to gain answers to the questions they wished they had asked in their course. It also allows participants the opportunities to reinforce their knowledge, practice their skills, and receive feedback. This process strengthens their ability to recognize warning signs, provide appropriate support, and engage in empathetic and non-judgmental communication. Refreshing MHFA skills helps MHFAiders feel more prepared and confident when faced with mental health crises or situations. This increased confidence translates into more effective support, contributing to better outcomes for those in need.

Who would have foreseen 4 years ago we would see the changes in work practiced bought by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Updating skills helps MHFAiders address emerging mental health concerns and by remaining informed and adaptable, MHFAiders can better meet the unique needs of those they support.

Preventing Skill Erosion:

By refreshing their knowledge and engaging in skill-building activities, MHFAiders prevent skill erosion and maintain their proficiency in providing effective mental health support. Regular boosters allow MHFAiders to revisit key concepts, practice their intervention techniques, and refine their communication skills. This ensures that their responses remain sharp, accurate, and appropriate, enabling them to offer timely and effective assistance.

The Importance of Skill Refreshment for MHFAiders:

Regularly boosting MHFA skills is vital for sustaining readiness, maintaining competence, and providing effective support to individuals in need. By engaging in ongoing training and skill development, MHFAiders:

  • Stay updated on the latest research and evidence-based practices in mental health.
  • Boost their confidence and competence in responding to mental health crises.
  • Adapt their approaches to changing contexts and emerging challenges.
  • Prevent skill erosion and ensure the delivery of timely and appropriate support.

The role of an MHFAider is one of great responsibility and impact. To fulfil this role effectively, it is crucial to prioritize skill refreshment and ongoing learning. By staying up to date with the latest knowledge and techniques, MHFAiders can provide accurate, empathetic, and effective support to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Investing in regular training and skill refreshment not only enhances the quality of support provided but also contributes to the overall well-being of communities.

MHFA Booster Sessions

If you’re an actively accredited MHFAider, you may be interested in an MHFA Booster session. They can be one-on-one or group coaching program that can help you to deepen your understanding and practice of MHFA.

Who is it for?

This offering is for actively accredited MHFAiders only who have already completed the Mental Health First Aid course and have been certified as an MHFAider. These sessions are designed to be run either quarterly or half yearly to provide upskilling in between the formal three-year accreditation cycle

What is it doing?

This offering provides MHFAiders with the opportunity to deepen their understanding and practice of MHFA. The coaching can cover any topic related to MHFA, but some examples include refreshing the following topics:

  • The different types of mental illness
  • The signs and symptoms of mental illness
  • The ALGEE Action Plan
  • Crisis intervention
  • The Approach in real life
  • Workplace nuances
  • How to create a supportive environment for people with mental illness
  • Boundaries and Self-Care for the MHFAider
  • General Q and A

Delivery mode and length:

The Booster sessions can be delivered online or face-to-face, and are typically 1-2 hours long, and are delivered in small-medium sized groups (Maximum of 12 for online sessions for psychological safety reasons

Delivery outcomes
Participants who complete the Booster Sessions will gain:

  • A deeper understanding of mental illness
  • Improved skills in talking to people about their mental health
  • Increased confidence in using the MHFA action plan
  • The opportunity to discuss case studies and practice skills
  • The opportunity to reflect on effective self-care and boundary setting

Benefits of the  Booster Session:

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of mental illness
  • Improved skills in supporting people with mental illness
  • A more supportive and inclusive workplace
  • Reduced risk of burnout for MHFAiders
  • How to get started

Refreshing your MHFA skills is an important part of being an effective Mental Health First Aider. By staying up-to-date on the latest research and practising your skills regularly, you can be confident that you’re providing the best possible support to someone.