In January 2018, I lost my younger brother, Sam, to suicide. He was just 15. While I sat on my bed that Sunday evening, little did I know that only a few metres away from me my brother was about to take his own life.
As part of research into ways of helping young people suffering with mental health conditions in schools we found that staff are generally not equipped to deal with problems faced by some students as they don’t have the knowledge to do so.
Mental health first aid would be a very cheap and easy to run session which outlines potential problems faced by students and offers guidance to staff on what to do immediately (i.e. don’t ignore the student). It would also advise staff on who to contact about the student to start putting into place the support they need as quickly as possible.
Making the training compulsory may seem excessive at first glance but we now live in an age where three students per class have a diagnosable mental health condition . There are over 200 schoolchildren lost to suicide every year . And the rates of depression and anxiety in young people have increased by 70% in the last 25 years . So, I wholeheartedly believe, this isn’t an excessive measure to be taking, it’s a desperate one.