HSE announces project patnership with Mental Health First Aid Ireland

April 7th 2017

Today Anne O’Connor, National Director for Mental Health with the HSE and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee, announced a project in partnership with Mental Health First Aid Ireland (MHFA) to make Mental Health First Aid more widely available in Ireland. This year alone the project aims to see over 800 people be trained in MHFA from all over Ireland.

 

The welcome funding has been announced in conjunction with World Health Day on 7th of April each year, with this year’s theme being ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.

 

Mental Health First Aid is the initial help offered to a person who might be developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health difficulty or going through a mental health crisis. Like other forms of first aid, Mental Health First Aid is given until appropriate professional support is received or until the crises resolves.

 

The allocated funds will go towards the roll out of training amongst targeted Youth Organisations, HSE staff, Community Groups and some voluntary and charity sectors. It will also be used to fund further training of 16 new Mental Health First Aid instructors nationwide. This development also delivers on some commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy.

 

Mental Health First Aid first launched in Ireland in September 2016. Since its launch, courses have been rolled out across the country to over 300 people in community organisations, youth organisations and corporate groups.

 

To date Mental Health First Aid training has been received by over 2 million people in over 20 countries worldwide. 

 

Participants in the training programme learn how to recognise when someone is experiencing a mental health difficulty and through a framework of communication, how to offer and provide initial help. They learn how to support a person and to engage with appropriate professional care or other supportive help in an understanding and empathetic way.

While positive strides are being made in the area of mental health awareness and acceptance, statistics show that the stigma attached to mental health difficulties is still alive and well in Ireland.

  • 85% of us in Ireland agree that ‘anyone can experience a mental health problem’ but over 60% of us wouldn’t want someone else to know we were having a problem. 
  • Only 1 in 5 say they would be very comfortable working with someone with depression. 
  • Only 35% of people with a common mental illness receive professional help. 
  • Depression is predicted to be the leading cause of disease burden by 2030 (WHO)

 

Today in Ireland, training is available to everyone via courses that are run throughout the country by Mental Health First Aid Ireland. There are also specifically tailored courses designed for corporate groups.

The Mental Health First Aid training programme has been extensively evaluated and research has shown the training to improve mental health literacy, improve people’s confidence to provide help and to increase helping behaviours and reducing stigma. MHFA is included in the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programmes and Practices.

MHFA Ireland aims to make MHFA training available throughout Ireland.  

 

*Approximately 1 in 5 Irish people will experience a diagnosable mental health difficulty in any given year. Many people experience mental health problems for a long time before seeking help and don’t see that people can and do recover from a mental health problem.

Speaking at the launch today Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee said:“Initiatives like Mental Health First Aid increase our capacity to support others in our community in an open and effective way. Being able to recognise and communicate our feelings is a crucial component for a healthier society, and I welcome the roll-out of this training which will help facilitate this on a wider basis nation-wide.”

 

Speaking at the launch today National Director For Mental Health with the HSE, Anne O’Connor said: “The HSE is delighted to announce our partnership with the Mental Health First Aid programme.  This complements our HSE funded training initiatives around mental health promotion and suicide prevention, such as ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and SafeTalk. The allocated funds will go towards the initial roll out of Mental Health First Aid training amongst targeted Youth Organisations, HSE staff and Community Groups. Funding will also support the training of a further 16 Mental Health First Aid instructors nationwide. This development forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy”

 

“This week we hosted the HSE’s inaugural Mental Health Quality & Service User Safety Seminar which coincided with the publication of our 2017 HSE Best Practice Guidance for Mental Health Services. This work, along with today’s announcement about MHFA, means that we are marking World Health Day with positive work and on-going discussion around service improvement in mental health.” she added.

 

Donal Scanlan, Project Manager from Mental Health First Aid Ireland said: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) at its core helps participants learn to have better conversations in mental health, be more supportive of others mental health and grow their confidence so that when they encourage or support someone they are doing so in an evidenced based way. 

 

As we know, a regular first aid course will not teach you to be a doctor or nurse, likwsie Mental Health First Aid doesn’t teach you to be a mental health expert or therapist.  It gives us the skills and confidence to be better, more supportive members of our community. 

 

Mental health problems touch everyone in Ireland in one way or another. This isn’t news, it isn’t an epidemic.  And while today on World Health Day we want to encourage everyone to talk, we need to think about who educates the listeners.  Labels don’t help, learning does.

 

Mental Health First Aid Ireland are delighted to be partnering with the Mental Health Division of the HSE to make this training more widely available in Ireland. This year alone the project aims to see over 800 people be trained in MHFA from all over Ireland.”

 

For further information, please visit www.mhfaireland.ie

* Research carried out by The Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group, led by Professor Mary Cannon.

Last updated on: 07 / 04 / 2017