Nursing students from all disciplines at the University of Northampton will learn mental health ‘first aid’ skills to help them spot critical warning signs of problems such as depression and anxiety, both at home. themselves and their patients.
The university’s faculty of health and society will incorporate the subject into the curriculum of all undergraduate nursing courses in October, following a successful trial with around 100 students.
“Nurses are on the front line to support people in all kinds of situations who may be vulnerable to mental health problems”
The goal is to create a nursing workforce with the confidence and ability to recognize the symptoms of common psychological problems, and to guide people to the right support before they escalate.
The course, equivalent to that of physical first aid, also enables students to take care of their own mental health.
Thanks to the university’s investment, 14 nursing teachers have been trained as mental health first aid instructors and they will be teaching the course to students in their first year of study. The team aims to train more than 300 first aid workers in mental health each year.
Emma Dillon, senior lecturer in mental health nursing and one of the first to become an instructor at the University of Northampton, praised the program, which is run by Mental Health First Aid England.
She said, âMental health first aid training helps our faculty create a new generation of nurses who are responsive to the mental and physical health of those they come into contact with.
âFrom patients to the people they work with in the community, nurses are on the front line supporting people in all kinds of situations who may be vulnerable to mental health issues,â said Ms. Dillon.
“It is therefore crucial that they receive adequate training from the start on how to spot the warning signs of mental illness, to provide first aid support, and also to understand how to support their own mental health.” she declared. .
“This is in addition to the growing recognition of a need for mental health education to be an integral part of the nursing curriculum.”
Ms. Dillon added, âBy providing mental health first aid training to undergraduate nursing students in all disciplines, we hope to improve early intervention approaches within the profession and equip our students to better support the communities in which they will work. “
The introduction of the course at the University of Northampton will coincide with the implementation of the new Council of Nurses and Midwives competence standards, which place greater emphasis on the competence of all nurses in mental health care.
The mental health first aid program is also being rolled out to health students at Coventry University.
Caroline Hounsell, youth officer and director of Mental Health First Aid England, said it was “fantastic” to see Northampton join the movement.
She added, âThis new development comes in addition to the growing recognition within higher education of the need for mental health training to be an integral part of the nursing curriculum.
âNurses face many challenges when entering the profession today, but by giving them skills in mental health first aid, we can ensure they have the knowledge and confidence to take action. as the first point of contact for people with mental illness, âMs. Hounsell said.
Geraldine Walters, director of education and standards at the NMC, welcomed the university’s decision to add mental health first aid training to its nursing curriculum.
She said, âWhen we were developing our new pre-enrollment nursing standards with our stakeholders, many wanted more emphasis to be placed on mental health in all areas of nursing. It is really encouraging that universities like Northampton have a head start. “
The course does not train people to become therapists or psychiatrists, but rather encourages them to become advocates for mental health.