A new team of first aiders with a difference have just been trained in time for Mental Health Awareness Week.
For St Helens Council’s first mental health first aiders are now in place to help support people who may need help.
Matt Thompson is one of the first people to have completed the training which gives first aiders the tools to offer support and advice on where to refer people to get the right help, or just offering a place for someone to talk about their feelings confidentially.
He said: “I think mental health is a massive epidemic, so I think it’s really important that we start taking away any stigma and making mental health as much as a priority as physical health. As a mental health first aider we can provide a safe space for people to come to and say how they are feeling. We won’t diagnose as that’s not our role, but we can signpost and let people know where to get help. I think it’s so important to get that support early and there are so many resources out there.”
The mental health first aider training ties in with the work St Helens Council and its partners are doing to encourage people to be comfortable talking about their mental wellbeing.
Events such as the suicide memorial held last month are ways that are trying to reinforce the message that it is important to talk and continually think about looking after your mental wellbeing.
It comes as provisional results show that the suicide rate for St Helens is falling from 17.9 deaths per 100,000 people aged 10 and above to 15.3.
Councillor Anthony Burns, incoming portfolio holder for public health, leisure and libraries, said: “The stigma surrounding talking about mental health is starting to fade but it is important that we still take the time to look after our own mental wellbeing.
“It’s so important that when you feel things starting to affect you that you speak up and get help from the many organisations and charities there are to help. Getting the right help early means people are far less likely to reach a crisis point where people are at risk of harm. The mental health first aider programme is one of the ways we are making sure that staff are given the opportunity to share their feelings with a first aider who can help them get the right support.”
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week on Friday and Saturday come and join us for a coffee and a chat as a pop-up café opens its doors outside St Helens Parish Church in Church Square. People can stop for a brew and a chat and take some time out of busy lives to relax.
The pop-up café will be in place from 9.30am to 3.30pm on both days.
To find out more about support available you can also go to www.sthelens.gov.uk .