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  • 91 score
    105 voters

    Mental Health First Aid Training for representatives

    Passed
      I propose the idea that university representatives of 2018/19 are provided with Mental Health First Aid training. This could possibly include -but is not limited to- flat representatives representing on campus students, the off campus officer (and off campus reps) supporting off campus students, the mental health officer, the vice president of community and welfare, etc. 78% of students suffer from a mental health issue during their studies, therefore it is highly beneficial that the people around them are aware of how to help. Mental Health First Aid training aims to provide: a depth of knowledge relating to mental health and factors impacting wellbeing; practical skills to spot signs and triggers of mental health issues; confidence to step in, reassure and support an individual in distress; enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgmental listening; the knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support- for example self-help resources, the NHS or university based support services. NO ONE should suffer alone.
    Leonard Bibby
    2:36pm on 30 Mar 18 What I would say about this particular ideas is that in fact, flat reps, Sabb officers and most residential roles do receive a degree of training on how to spot signs and risk factors which is a very good thing and should be continued in addition to the first aid training they have. the issue comes when you start asking people who are not practitioners or do not have counselling degrees to provide counsel to vulnerable individuals. both flat reps and sabbs are not selected/ elected on the basis of their capacity to be therapists, to ask them to provide any form of pastoral care is firstly, beyond what should be asked of their role. Secondly, putting both themselves and the individual in a potentially taxing engagement, that professionals with degrees to do this often struggle with emotionally. we should instead focus on signposting and risk identification training in which student to student contact is kept as low as possible and where the student to professional pastoral support is put foremost as was a factor highlighted in the idea. the student’s union and the flatrep system has historically had issues with individuals taking on people’s problems e.g. self-harm, sexual assault, depression etc. and attempting to resolve them internally thus excluding professional assistance from the person's support. this has ended very badly in some cases and we should aim to make policy which avoids repeating these kinds of student-to-student care relationships. I personally would be very supportive of an idea that promoted additional funding to resources for individuals in vulnerable situations, additional signposting or even more pastoral staff. but find it hard to support an idea which promotes peer involvement with individuals suffering from specific issues regarding mental health, seems like a system at risk of domination and exploitation.
    Bethany Amos
    6:22pm on 30 Mar 18 Thank you for your response Leonard, I am very grateful to have received feedback. In opposition, however, I have spoken to many flat representatives who have claimed they barely receive any awareness in regards to where to direct their freshers for mental health support, what to look for behaviourally and emotionally in terms of potential signs of poor mental health/wellbeing, nor how to help a fresher in immediate distress- which can often occur out of hours. Therefore, based on my own personal experience of flat representatives and speaking to many others within that role; a small portion of extra training in relation to mental health: such as short course mental health first aid training, is vital to ensure the wellbeing of our on campus students. At no point did I recommend that representatives counsel or act as therapists to vulnerable individuals. In fact, I have watched one flat representative struggle very badly as a result of the mental health of one of their freshers because they did not know how to react in immediate situations nor where to direct the student for help. Instead of recommending students be counselled by representatives, I suggested that the mental health first aid course would provide: A) knowledge surrounding mental health and factors impacting wellbeing (which is extremely important and not all representatives have), B) practical skills to spot signs and triggers of mental health issues (so that these students can be recommended support); C+D) confidence to step in, reassure and support an individual in distress and enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgmental listening (reassuring, supporting and listening to an individual does not need counselling skills; this course will aim to provide representatives with the knowledge of when a student DOES need professional support in comparison to where they just need a listening supportive ear); which brings me on to my last point: E) this training will provide students with the knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support- for example self-help resources, the NHS or university based support services. Furthermore, I believe this training does not risk any representatives nor students- and is likely to only benefit them, and focuses on signposting and risk identification training as you suggested. The only “student to student pastoral support” mentioned would be the confidence to step in, reassure and support an individual in distress; which has possibly been taken completely out of context. At night-time, for example, this could involve providing a within-boundary level of reassurance and support while directing the student to college wardens or other support. One key role of a flat representative is to generally provide support to the students, and while this should be monitored to not place too much pressure onto the representative and avoid the flat representative “taking-on” a student’s problems. Sometimes a degree of internal support is the ONLY way a student is directed to external support, due to students often being reluctant to seek this help themselves in an unfamiliar environment, especially when both the flat representative and student are unaware of where to get help- which this short-course training would provide. I believe that the boundaries within this course primarily focus on signposting, risk identification, and how to support internally (within-reason) and directing support externally; which could really support students and representatives, and would not cause any extra domination nor exploitation than what would have already been prevalent. In relation to other funding for resources to in additional funding to resources for individuals in vulnerable situations, additional signposting or even more pastoral staff; that is also a proficient discussion point but steers away from the point I am trying to make regarding representatives. Thank you again for your response, all the best.