College celebrates its 100th Mental Health First Aider

Sunderland College held a special event to celebrate the first anniversary of its commitment to mental health and wellbeing and achieving its aim of 100 staff qualifying as Mental Health First Aiders.

The breakfast event, which took place at the college’s Bede Campus, celebrated a year since it signed the Time to Change Employers Pledge and its commitment to training a team of 100 Mental Health First Aiders by 2020, to support staff and students who are experiencing mental health issues.

During the event last Friday, the college also officially signed the Association of College’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter, further demonstrating its commitment to the mental health agenda. In addition, the team of college Mental Health First Aiders were recognised for their achievement and presented with badges by Rob Lawson, Chair of Governors, and Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East.

Helen Willan, HR Business Partner for Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College, said:

“As a leading college, we take our responsibility for supporting student and staff mental health and wellbeing very seriously. Our breakfast celebration event followed Time to Talk day 2020 and also signified a year since we signed the Time to Change Employers Pledge to demonstrate our commitment to changing perceptions towards mental health in the workplace.

“One of our aims from the Time to Change Employers Pledge action plan was to train Mental Health First Aiders within the college. The response we had from staff was fantastic and we now have over 100 staff who are trained, which means that across our campuses at Sunderland and Hartlepool, one in seven staff is a Mental Health First Aider.”

“I’m delighted that we have also signed the Association of College’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter. We will continue to value mental health and wellbeing by developing mental health awareness campaigns, offering resilience training and encouraging staff and students to have conversations about their mental health.”

Helen Willan officially launched a new Mental Health First Aider Network Group with local mental health organistion, Able Futures, at the breakfast event, to ensure that staff are fully supported in their roles as Mental Health First Aiders.

Paul Henderson, Regional Manager at Able Futures, said:

“Through delivering the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service, Able Futures knows how important it is for companies like Sunderland College, which sits at the heart of the community, to demonstrate its commitment to mental health at work. Able Futures has joined up with Sunderland College because we both want to help people feel comfortable talking about what they need, to have more good days.”

“The launch of the Mental Health First Aider Network Group at the college is a clear statement of how important mental health and wellbeing is for their employees. It has been great to work with them to demonstrate how Able Futures can provide advice and support from a mental health professional for up to nine months at no cost. With 100 Mental Health First Aiders now on-board at Sunderland College, we hope more staff will be able to learn about how Able Futures could help them build resilience, tackle issues, feel better and manage their mental health throughout the ups and downs of life.”

Time to Talk day encouraged people to have a conversation about mental health. This year, they used the popular game ‘Would you rather?’ to help break the ice and get people talking.

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