Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training at Coventry University hits the spotlight again.

As mentioned last year, three members of the Physiotherapy team at Coventry are trained Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainers who are able to deliver across a suite of the MHFA products, including the half day introduction (Mental Health Aware), managers and Higher Education one day (MHFA Champions) and the full 2 day course (Mental Health First Aiders).  I am delighted to say that our work with the Coventry undergraduate health programmes and to support staff is receiving recognition for its efforts to raise awareness across the faculty and out into the work place.  Following on from last year’s success at the Coventry Excellence Awards, this year we were shortlisted for a regional award by Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards (Healthcare) 2018 in the ‘Mental Health Innovation’ category.  Sadly, we didn’t win, but it was a great privilege to have been nominated for such a prestigious regional award.

Alongside our core work of delivering MHFA training we are also engaged in research.  We are committed to evaluating our work with the students and are keen to establish if there are any links between training and knowledge of Mental Health and the confidence students may have in both speaking to and for people (patients, carers and colleagues) who may be experiencing Mental Health Issues.  We are looking to see if students can signpost to relevant support and whether they perceive their MHFA training to have enhanced their clinical practice and if they feel it has raised their quality of care.  As much of the course sits around making time to listen to others and to be open to conversations as well as diminishing stigma attached to mental health, it is hoped that there will be a positive link reported.  Currently we are in the process of gathering our initial information from students pre and post training.  As you can imagine with the vagaries of working with different course programmes, it is a challenge to ‘catch’ all our students pre-placement!  The physiotherapy students are due to receive their training at the start of year two.  We will keep you posted on our progress!

Related to this, we were invited to submit an abstract to the inaugural conference of ‘Releasing the Potential: the educational sector’s contribution to adult and young people’s mental health’ which was accepted and we delivered our presentation in June this year.  The title of our presentation was ‘Raising Awareness: Challenging Stigma’ Implementing strategies to improve recognition of mental health concerns and to enhance resilience and emotional wellbeing for healthcare students at Coventry University. The team delivering this included myself, Sally Parkes (physiotherapy), Annette Dix (physiotherapy), Diane Phimister (Associate Head, team lead and mental health nursing), Gay James (Adult nursing) and we also recruited a graduate physiotherapist, Jonathan Ammerlaan (Band 5 NHS) who gave an authentic student voice to our message.  I am pleased to say that the presentation was well received, and it has fired us to keep going with our work.