North Yorkshire County Council is funding training for hundreds of staff in organisations across the county to develop the skills to support people who are experiencing mental health issues.
Eleven organisations across North Yorkshire have been awarded grants totalling £70,600 from the County Council’s public health fund for 700 staff to be trained as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) practitioners or Applied Suicide Intervention Training (ASIST) instructors. Successful organisations range from service user-led community groups to national mental health charities, sport organisations, substance misuse organisations and the ambulance service.
The training programmes are aimed at individuals who do not work in mental health professions but come into contact with people who may be experiencing mental health issues. MHFA training teaches people to recognise the signs of mental health issues; provide help on a first aid basis; and help those who need support to find the help they need. ASIST participants learn to recognise, intervene and prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Both MHFA and ASIST courses are internationally recognised as best practice in the field.
“It is estimated that 150,000 people in North Yorkshire – around 1 in 4 – will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives,” said County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration. “The organisations we are funding have contact with people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“This training initiative is part of the work we are doing with partner organisations and community groups to ensure that mental health is treated equally to physical health. Just like physical health first aiders in the work place, mental health first aiders are vital to recognise and help those who are experiencing mental health issues, and ensure they receive the support they need as quickly as possible.”
The new funding programme is part of the County Council’s commitment to deliver the North Yorkshire Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2015-2020. Called Hope, Control and Choice, the strategy outlines three priorities for the Mental Health Partnership: Resilience, Responsiveness and Reaching Out. Delivery of comprehensive mental health first aid training is an action under the Responsiveness priority, to help ensure that people experiencing mental health issues receive appropriate support as quickly as possible.
“The newly qualified instructors will deliver a number of training sessions, free of charge, to around 700 front line staff,” said County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Public Health and Stronger Communities. “Organisations benefiting from the public health funding include community groups, substance misuse workers, North Yorkshire Police and the NHS.
“By increasing the number of qualified practitioners, the on-going coverage of mental health training across North Yorkshire will be improved dramatically.”
Organisations receiving funding from the County Council are:
- Brighter Futures – a service user-led, not-for-profit organisation based in Selby
- Carers Resource – Yorkshire-based charity which offers help and support to unpaid carers
- Cartwheel Consulting – independent trainers with a background in working with veterans
- Craven College – a further education college
- Lifeline (North Yorkshire Horizons) – the County Council’s commissioned substance misuse service provider
- North Yorkshire Sport – a Harrogate-based charity which tackles inequality through physical activity
- Saint Michael’s Hospice – a hospice for terminally ill patients, that currently delivers bereavement support
- Scarborough Survivors – a service user-led community group
- Together UK – a long-standing mental health charity
- York Mind – the York branch of the national mental health charity Mind
- Yorkshire Ambulance Service