My Experience of the New Updated MHFA Course
Near to the end of January, I attended the newly updated MHFA two day course delivered by Jeremy Gulvin for Illuminate Charity in Cambridge. I completed the original course three years ago and I was interested in how the new course would flow if there were any changes to the content and to see how we would respond as a group to the updates.
The first obvious change was the materials. The work book and the manual are now one streamlined workbook which I liked very much. The old manual was comprehensive and big (heavy) so the big leap forward is the app, I found this very easy to log onto and navigate. However, I know my Dad (and maybe other older people) would need help with this, so usage could be dependent on age and ability.
The app contains the Hub of Hope where you can enter your postcode to find local services statutory and charitable. This is excellent and works really well. Also, it includes a link to the Samaritans website, Shout a text service with trained volunteers, MHFA resources, plus videos, and their newsletter.
The course started with definitions of MHFA, and importantly a reminder that it does not qualify you to be a mental health professional such as a therapist or counsellor. It sets the context much more clearly. There seemed to be more time for discussion which was good as we all got to know each other better. This makes learning more enjoyable as trust within the group builds quicker.
Jeremy explained and laid out what topics would be covered each day for each morning or afternoon. One individual in our group decided that they would opt out of the session on suicide. It was easy enough to do by letting the trainer know, leaving the room and importantly doing what’s best for ones self. This is the advantage of being told up front about the content coming up.
The course puts more emphasis on boundaries, which is vital for all MHFAiders and a great reminder especially for those going back into the workplace. The theory is backed by some excellent videos which makes it engaging when learning through slides, discussion and listening.
I enjoyed this course far more than the previous version that I completed. Previously I was shocked by how slide heavy it was with little room for trainers to bring the course to life or deviate. The new and improved course is more engaging with less slides, one workbook and an app.
It is intense, a lot of information and it can be a difficult or uncomfortable subject, however, it was very well managed by Jeremy who has many years of experience. Topics and discussions were treated with empathy and compassion. We also laughed together as we shared stories and Jeremy was skillful at using well-placed humour when appropriate.
Our next open MHFA course is in Cambridge, March 30th and 31st