North Yorkshire County Council is supporting World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, and its focus this year is to raise awareness of the benefits of psychological and mental health first aid.

Supporting the campaign is part of the County Council’s commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing and it is training around 500 members of staff from adult and children social care teams to deliver Mental Health First Aid. Staff from these teams come into contact with hundreds of North Yorkshire residents every day, many of whom may require support with their mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health first aid training equips people to offer support and guidance to those experiencing mental health distress or crisis. World Mental Health Day 2016 aims to raise awareness of psychological and mental health first aid and encourage countries, individuals and organisations to deliver mental health support in times of crisis or distress.

After the training, staff will be confident when helping someone experiencing a mental health issue, be able to provide help, and guide them towards appropriate support. They will also be able to spot the signs of a mental health issue, and help stop it getting worse. This in turn helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and promotes mental health and wellbeing through having an increased understanding of mental health issues.

“Supporting this year’s World Mental Health Day and promoting its theme of mental health first aid is an important part of our work to improve mental health and wellbeing in North Yorkshire,” said County Councillor Clare Wood, Chairman of the North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board.

“In many parts of the world, physical first aiders are readily available, whether it’s in the workplace or as part of a first response when accidents happen in public. However, psychological or mental health first aiders are far less common, despite the fact that one in four people in Britain will experience mental health issues each year.

“We are training our staff to become mental health first aiders because we know they come into contact with people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Just like physical health first aiders in the work place, mental health first aiders recognise and help those who are experiencing mental health issues, and ensure they receive the support they need as quickly as possible.”

County Councillor David Chance, executive member for public health and stronger communities

said: “The training supports 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 county’s Mental Health Partnership: Resilience, Responsiveness, and Reaching Out. The delivery of comprehensive mental health first aid training is part of the ‘Responsiveness’ priority, and its aim is to help ensure that individuals experiencing mental health issues receive appropriate support as quickly as possible.

“In addition, North Yorkshire County Council and the NHS jointly fund a mental health out-of-hours telephone helpline service that provides emotional support, signposting and referral to other services for individuals and for the carers of people experiencing mental distress. People who need advice, support or help can call the dedicated number, 0333 0000 309, to speak to a friendly, understanding and non-judgemental adviser.”