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In an age when it is estimated that one in ten young people experience a mental health issue at any one time, and record numbers of people are struggling due to social media, bullying, and academic or work pressures – we believe that Scouts has a place in giving young people and adults skills for life; practice the five ways to well-being and help young people and adults to access further support.

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic we know that many people will be suffering after a pre-longed period of social isolation and we know Scouts will have a huge role to play in the recovery of young people and our local community with Mental Health and physical wellbeing being two of the biggest issues society will face in the next few years. To combat this we are embarking on a project to equip more of our volunteers with the skills to identify issues with mental health and help young people to overcome these issues. We also plan on organising a year of wellbeing activities and challenges to encourage young people and volunteers to Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give – things which we already do as part of a balanced Scout programme but will highlight their importance.

The District plan for mental health and wellbeing is being spearheaded by our District Youth Commissioner and has been led by team of young people aged 14-18, supported by the District Team.

Mental Health Training

One of the aspirations of the Mental Health and Wellbeing plan is to be able to offer volunteers some supplementary accredited training in Mental Health Awareness / First Aid. Volunteers will be taught how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis. In the same way as learning physical first aid, MHFA teaches people how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health and feel confident to guide someone to appropriate support.

To do this we have funded the training of two Mental Health First Aid Instructors to provide this in house at no cost to leaders or groups. We will be able to offer three levels of course to suit those in different roles / different time commitments.

  • Mental Health Aware – 4 hours
  • Mental Health First Aid – 1 day
  • Supervising First Aid for Mental Health – 2 day

Level 1 – Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health

Duration: This course runs over 4 hours. Ideally, the course should be run over one day, but we have the flexibility to split the course over a couple of evenings or days.

Who’s it for?

This awareness course is suitable for everyone as it provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a suspected mental health condition and the skills to start a conversation and be able to signpost a person towards professional help. The course is great for Assistant Section Leaders, Section Assistants or Exec Members who want to know more about Mental Health.

All members of the Scouts can benefit from this course and it is a great stepping stone into First Aid for Mental Health.

Syllabus includes

  • What is First Aid for Mental Health?
  • Identifying mental health conditions
  • Providing advice and starting a conversation

Certification

Upon successful completion of the qualification assessment, Learners will be awarded the Ofqual regulated Level 1 Award in Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health (RQF). This qualification is valid for three years from the date of achievement.

The learner will need to complete the full course again to requalify for a further three years.

Assessment

The qualification is assessed through a multiple-choice question paper. A Level 1 Award in Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health will be issued to the learner, subject to successful assessment. No external assessors are required.

Participants

A maximum of 16 students can be accommodated on this course and all candidates must be a minimum of 14 years of age to qualify.

Level 2 – First Aid for Mental Health

Duration: This course runs over 6 hours spread over 1 day. Ideally, the course should be run over one day, but we do have the flexibility to split the course over a a number of days or evenings, providing it is completed within 6 weeks of starting the course and the training sessions last for a minimum of two hours.

Who’s is it for?

This course is suitable for everyone but has been designed to primarily help section leaders and assistant section leaders in assisting GSLs/DESCs to encourage a positive mental health culture within their group/section/unit. The course will equip learners with the skills to recognise mental health issues in young people and adult volunteers and signpost to professional support/the Scout Safeguarding team when required.

Mental Health First Aid won’t teach you to be a therapist, but – just like physical first aid – it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis. The course will cover a range of the most common mental health conditions and provide advice on how to comfort a person with a mental health issue and prevent it from becoming more serious until professional help arrives.

Syllabus includes

  • What is First Aid for Mental Health?
  • Identifying mental health conditions
  • Providing advice and starting a conversation
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • First Aid for Mental Health action plan
  • First Aid for Mental Health in the your Group/Unit

Certification

Upon successful completion of the qualification assessment, Learners will be awarded the Ofqual regulated Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health (RQF). This qualification is valid for three years from the date of achievement.

The learner will need to complete the full course again to requalify for a further three years.

Assessment

The qualification is assessed through both a practical demonstration of the First Aid for Mental Health Action Plan and a multiple-choice question paper. A Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health will be issued to the learner, subject to successful assessment. No external assessors are required.

Participants

A maximum of 16 students can be accommodated on this course and all candidates must be a minimum of 14 years of age to qualify.

Level 3 – Supervising First Aid for Mental Health

Duration: This course runs over 12 hours spread over at least 2 days. Ideally, the course should be run over two consecutive days, but we have the flexibility to split the course over a number of days/evenings, providing it is completed within 10 weeks of starting the course and the training sessions last for a minimum of two hours.

Who’s it for?

This course builds on the Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health and covers a wider range of mental health conditions and goes into detail on the range of therapy and professional support that a person may be given by professional bodies during treatment for a mental health condition.

The course is suitable for all persons who want to become Mental Health First Aiders but is aimed at those who hold a supervisory/managerial level position e.g Group Scout Leaders, Commissioners and Unit Managers and who have responsibility for implementing a positive mental health culture and supporting those providing First Aid for Mental Health.

Syllabus includes

  • What is First Aid for Mental Health?
  • Identifying mental health conditions
  • Providing advice and starting a conversation
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • First Aid for Mental Health action plan
  • First Aid for Mental Health in Scouting
  • A large range of Mental Health conditions covered in detail

Certification

Upon successful completion of the qualification assessment, Learners will be awarded the Ofqual regulated Level 3 Award in Supervising First Aid for Mental Health (RQF). This qualification is valid for three years from the date of achievement. It is strongly recommended that the learner attends annual refresher training. The learner will need to complete the full course again to requalify for a further three years.

Assessment

Summative practical assessment is ongoing by the instructor each day, along with a written assessment on each day. A Level 3 Award in Supervising First Aid for Mental Health will be issued to the learner, subject to successful assessment. No external assessors are required.

Participants

A maximum of 16 students can be accommodated on this course and all candidates must be a minimum of 14 years of age to qualify.

Our aim and initial priority is to have at least one leader in every one of our 60 sections trained as a Mental Health First Aiders so there is a good level of support and awareness of mental health issues for all our young people in all levels of Scouts. We would also like those in a key line management positions e.g. GSLs and Commissioners trained in “Supervising First Aid for Mental Health”, to encourage a positive mental health culture and understand their responsibility and role they can play in supporting their teams.

However, the training will be open to all and we are not expecting this to become a role for one person, if there are multiple people in a section who would like to attend then empty places on the courses will be offered to those who want them. Courses will be repeated in the future and it is hoped that eventually everyone will have participated in some form of the training. Those with slightly less time available or roles with less direct responsibility e.g. Section Assistants or Exec Members who would like to learn more about Mental health, may be more inclined to attend the shorter Mental Health Aware courses.

We will also be offering specific training to young leaders who wish to participate in Mental Health awareness training.

How the courses will be delivered…

Learning takes place through a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions. Our intention is to offer the course virtually, face to face indoors and face face to face outdoors to appeal to different learning styles. Fundamentally all three courses focus on practical skills and awareness designed to give you:

  • A better understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to appropriate support

Course learning outcomes:

  • Provide initial help to someone experiencing mental distress
  • Guide the person towards appropriate professional help
  • Be mindful of own wellbeing
  • Understand the difference between mental health and mental illness
  • Understand the consequences of stigma
  • Understand the consequences of stress on mental health and how to manage stress
  • Recognise the symptoms of mental ill health

Course dates

Level 1

TBC dates to be announced later this year…

Level 2
  • 17 – 19 August 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Evening course)
  • 24 – 26 August 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Evening course)
  • 18 September 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Day course)
  • 19 September 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Day course)
  • 9 October 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Day course)
  • 24 – 26 August 2021 – First Aid for Mental Health (Evening course)
Level 3
  • 28 & 29 August 2021 – Supervising First Aid for Mental Health (Weekend course)
  • 4 & 5 September 2021 – Supervising First Aid for Mental Health (Weekend course)

Our Instructors

Colin Ashcroft

Colin has been a qualified Social Worker since 1987 specialising in both mental health and learning disabilities as well a being an Approved Mental Health Professional. 

Primarily working in local authorities across the north west, for 5 years he was a specialist mental health training officer and combined that role with managing the largest mental health partnership in the country with the University of Manchester.

Colin qualified in Human Resource Management in 2004 having led a workforce development project while on secondment to the NHS. During his HR training, he specialised in learning and development.

Colin had the opportunity to leave the local authority in 2018 and since then stepped up from an Occasional Helper to Assistant Leader and now Beaver Section Leader with 1st Helsby.

Colin continues to be self employed as a social care consultant and has retained his registration as a Social Worker and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He is also visiting researcher and lecturer with The University of Chester.

Jake Vickery

Jake is our District Youth Commissioner and is a passionate about young people’s mental health. Early on his tenure as DYC he made mental health a standing item of the agenda of the District Youth Forum and has encouraged sections to follow suit and talk openly about these issues.

Along with the Mersey Weaver Youth Shape Team and support from the District team, he has been developing a plan to improve the mental health and well being of our young people in the wake of the coronavirus. 

Jake is currently studying for a MChem in pharmaceutical Chemistry at Leicester University and has been an active member of his college’s support network. He has been a practicing Mental Health First Aider since early 2020 and is excited to share that knowledge with others.

As a young person himself Jake understands more than most the impact Scouts can have on Mental Health and wellbeing and is excited about working in partnership with Colin to deliver training to adult and young leaders.

Proudly supported by the Cheshire West and Chester, COVID – Let’s turn this around fund!

Additional help for young people

NSPCC’s Childline: 1-to-1 chat support and 24-hour helpline for young people. 
Phone: 0800 1111 
Website: childline.org.uk

HOPELineUK: A specialist telephone service that gives non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to young people. 
Phone: 0800 068 4141 
Website: papyrus-uk.org

On My Mind: Information for young people to make informed choices about their mental health and wellbeing. 
Website: annafreud.org/on-my-mind

YoungMinds: Crisis Messenger textline for free 24/7 support in the UK if a child or young person is experiencing a mental health crisis. 
Text: YM to 85258 
Website: youngminds.org.uk

NHS Go: NHS confidential health advice and support for young people under 25. Download the app to your phone.
Website: nhsgo.uk

Additional help for adult volunteers

Samaritans: Samaritans offer a free service any time 24/7. If you need someone to talk to, they listen. They won’t judge or tell you what to do. 
Phone: 116 123 
Website: samaritans.org 

NHS 111:  For urgent medical advice out of hours you can contact NHS 111. They can help if you have an urgent problem and don’t know what to do. 
Phone: 111 
Website: 111.nhs.uk

MIND: Mind Infoline is open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. We’re closed outside of those hours 
Call: 0300 123 3393 
Website: mind.org.uk