I have been flying the flag for mental health awareness for quite sometime now, originally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) in 2006, after a second period of significant illness in 2010, I discovered an incredible WEA supported project that was to do with volunteering and helping people with technology challenges – The DAIN project http://www.dainproject.com it was right up my street and was my first foray into volunteering and helping people with technology issues and it significantly contributed to my recovery from this incredibly debilitating condition and re-integration with society as a whole.
As part of my overall recovery process and development of effective tools and techniques to manage my condition, I was referred to the PARADES research project http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/shm/research/spectrum/research/parades/psychoeducation.php – a project that looked into how supporting each other with the condition could significantly lead to recovery and more effective self management of the condition. Once the interactive part of the project wrapped up, a number of us moved onto the local Bipolar UK support group – I have now been one of the key facilitators for this group for about 2 1/2 years and this year I ran the Helens Trust 10K at Chatsworth to raise funds to support group – details of my fund-raising efforts are here www.justgiving.com/infostocksy
In 2012 I had the great opportunity to undergo, a simple, NVQ level 1, award in Mental Health Awareness, it was very eye opening the level of ignorance with respect to mental health others had, as part of the course I helped to educate other learners about mental health challenges and destroying some of the preconceived ideas and stigma that some of these learners brought to the course.
In autumn of 2012 I became a representative for Derbyshire Voice a local charity, campaigning and representing the rights and views of people with mental health challenges at multi professional meetings with organisations such as the NHS, Police, Ambulance services etc.
Recently, the calling came from the WEA that they wished to develop their knowledge and experiences in the field of Mental Health Awareness and up skill tutors in the awareness of mental health for their learners, so I put myself forward and hoped to be involved in the process. Eventually the time came around to tootle off to the “Train the Trainer” course and an opportunity to visit colleagues in the Sheffield WEA office. I arrived very early on day one, this gave me a great opportunity to discuss a few things with the course tutor Greg Harrison, incredibly a few days before I had been discussing the WEA’s ZAMBIA http://www.wea.org.uk/weazambia/ http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=weazambiaappeal project at the WEA’s 2013 conference and Greg had connections and developed similar initiatives in Uganda – who knew !
Day one was spent by Greg going through the key points of the delivery material and the key resources that could be used with learners, covering :-
- Positive Mental Health
- Mental health challenges
- Causes of mental health challenges
- Different levels of mental health
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sever mental health challenges
- Hearing Voices
- Bi-polar disorder
- How to support learners with mental health challenges
- Course summary and evaluation
Having previously undertaken an accredited NVQ level 1 in mental health awareness, I can clearly state that the material covered and delivered was easily at at higher NVQ level 2 / 3.
We also discussed some of the recent issues in the media and the effects such activities have on individuals.
Day two was to be the tutors delivering the material that had been covered on day one, many of us were concerned of the value of purely delivering the material that had been presented on day one – O how wrong we were – put a group of WEA tutors in a room together and there’s no way your going to get something simple and boring – 13 tutors delivering information in 13 incredibly creative, differentiated and diverse ways with lots of incredible passion and energy, I could say a LOT more, but why don’t you contact your local WEA and ask them to deliver their Mental Health Awareness training to your group – you’ll be very surprised about how personally insightful and interactive the learning is.
We had loads of fun and learnt a great deal about an incredibly complex and sensitive subject area in an incredibly supportive and developmental environment – just what the WEA is best at !
As the WEA tutor’s wandered off back to their respective UK regions, they were very ready and passionate about delivering this incredibly thought provoking and sensitive subject, with the incredible passion and energy that is so endemic in incredible tutors that are part of the WEA.
Well that’s it for this post, comments and feedback are always greatly appreciated.
Off to Mansfield tomorrow to support the WEA’s GET ONLINE activities goo.gl/ahuw8u