Would you know what to do if someone was having a panic attack?

During Mental Health Awareness week (16 – 22 May), a three year project to provide free Mental Health First Aid training to people in the boroughs of Camden and Islington was launched. 

The two-day training course is free and available to anyone who lives, works, studies or volunteers in Islington or Camden. Participants have a choice of two course options: one for awareness of mental illness in adults; and one tailored to mental health in young people. 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised course, taught in 23 countries around the world. It’s the mental health equivalent of physical first aid, and provides participants with the skills and confidence to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right support services. 

The initiative is being provided through a partnership between Islington Council, Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, and Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), with the training delivered by Rethink Mental Illness. 

Through this free training, the boroughs of Camden and Islington hope to increase mental health awareness as well as reducing the stigma associated with mental ill health amongst the general public, thereby creating real positive change in perceptions and behaviours with their communities. 

Debra Norman Assistant Chief Executive, Governance and HR for Islington Council said: “Most of us will know from our own experiences (including of family, friends and work colleagues) that we can’t take good mental health for granted.  As both an employer and a provider of services, Islington Council is acutely aware of the impact that poor mental health can have.   

“Therefore we are delighted to be able to offer this practical training help ordinary people gain a better understanding of mental illness and to recognise the signs and be able to direct people to available services.” 

Dr Jonathan Levy, mental health governing body sponsor for Camden CCG and local GP said: “We are really excited to be partnering with Rethink Mental Illness to offer this training across Camden for the next three years. 

“We have already started to see the impact of the training that has taken place over the last year with people across the borough from a range of different backgrounds, including frontline staff. The training has been helping raise awareness, reduce mental health stigma and to support people and feel more confident around issues related to mental health.” 

Laurence Davies from Rethink Mental Illness said: “One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime. Training like this is so important as it helps develop our understanding of different mental health conditions and also gives us an insight into how we can support one another if someone is, for example, having a panic attack or hearing voices.” 

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership to deliver this vital training across Camden and Islington. 

Additionally, as part of this partnership, the organisations involved, alongside people with lived experience will be coproducing a local Mentally Healthy Workplace standard for public service organisations which will include the provision of free training to their staff. 

For more information, or to book your place on a training course, please contact Rethink Mental Illness on training@rethink.org or 020 7840 3069.