University’s far-reaching Mental Health training programme for nursing students announced

Date 13.07.2018

A University lecturer has spoken about how mental health awareness training helped her support a member of the public in distress, as plans are announced to make it a key part of nursing training.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an international awareness and skills programme. First Aiders learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of a range of mental health issues.

They are then taught how to provide help on a first aid basis and guide the person towards the support services. The University has 14 instructors and has trained more than 100 staff and students – and they are already making an impact.

Donna Bray, Subject Lead for Nursing at the University and an MHFA trainer, was able to directly help a member of the public following her training.

Noticing a young man at Birmingham New Street station who was agitated and stressed, she correctly recognised that he might have mental health issues felt confident enough to talk to him, calm his nerves and liaise with the police, who initially thought he was drunk and disorderly.

She said: “I understand what it’s like to feel nervous when you see someone in distress and acting differently in public, but seeing this young man who was clearly not well, the training gave me the structure to assess that he was not drunk and that he needed assistance.

“What the MHFA training helped me to do was to step aside, listen to what he was saying and look at the situation from a different perspective. This is essential training for all of ours nurses, not just those studying the Mental Health degree, so rolling this out next year will have massive benefits for them and the non-University community”.

MHFA is an added tool the University offers student nurses, supplementing their degrees. It helps them focus on actively promoting mental health to the public, intervening earlier to support people who are or may develop mental ill health issues and to have an increased awareness of their own well being.

MHFA instructors at University of Northampton have now delivered training to more than 100 students, giving them the ability to help in the wider community if they meet people in need of MHFA.

From 2019, MHFA will be a core part of the nursing programme. From then, the aim is to train more than 300 new mental health first aiders from the University’s first year nursing students each year.

For more about nursing degrees at Northampton, see the Universities website.

See the MHFA website for more about Mental Health First Aid Training.