The Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid group is campaigning with the council and community groups to get a thousand residents trained in “Mental Health First Aid” as part of today’s World Mental Health Day.
Taking part in the four-day online course is completely free, thanks to funding by TfL and the council, and it is open to all Croydon residents.
It is aimed at people who already provide informal support or a shoulder to cry on for local residents, whether they are a sports coach, a trusted auntie or just a neighbour who cares.
The campaign comes as mental health charity Mind revealed the scale of the impact of coronavirus on mental health. More than 1 in 5 adults with no previous experience of mental health problems said their mental health is poor or very poor as a consequence of covid and lockdown, in a survey carried out this summer.
So far, more than 300 applications have been received for the training run by MHFA England and the first hundred have completed the course.
If readers based in Croydon want to apply for the course personally, simply write to MHFA@croydon.gov.uk for your application form.
Janet Campbell, the council’s cabinet member for families and social care, said, “The pandemic has caused incredible loss, stress and uncertainty.
“However, in the face of huge challenges Croydon’s community has united to support each other and we are encouraging Croydon residents to keep volunteering and take this funded course in order to help others in our community. I am delighted we have been able to fund a thousand places for our mental health first aiders.”
Rowenna Davis, organiser for Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid said, “While the physical suffering from coronavirus is well known, we are all still getting to grips with the mental impact. Many families have suffered directly or even lost loved ones and all of us still feel the pressures of lockdown.
“This is now being combined with financial insecurity as jobs disappear, wages are cut and the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.
“While volunteers can never replace frontline professionals, residents are often the first ones to recognise when someone they know or love is suffering.
“This training should help people recognise the signs of developing mental health problems and provide guidance for early intervention.”
And one resident, Audrey, who has completed the training, said, “I took the Mental Health First Aider course with St John Ambulance in Croydon.
“Thanks to this training, I feel better equipped to discuss and give adequate support to a person who might be affected by a mental illness. I recommend the course and encourage you to get in touch with the council which offers training for free for Croydon residents.”
Further reading: 10 tips to help you and others on World Mental Health Day
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